Be a Teacher Testimonials

My experience with HCDE Alternative Certification Program has been very good. The knowledge and experience of the instructors is second to none. When I have needed support, it came quickly. I appreciate the follow-up and follow-through from the staff. These past few years have been instrumental in my success as a teacher. I know that I am prepared and I feel qualified for the students that I have. I am thankful for their persistence in helping me to secure the skills that I need to be successful.

Alisha Breakfield
5th Grade ELA/ESL Teacher, Owens Intermediate, Alief ISD


As a student going through the HCDE ACP program, I believe that I gained a lot of classroom management techniques and strategies, and it prepared me for what to expect as a first year teacher. I thank the staff at the ACP program for not only teaching me, but for also sharing their experiences and showing me that teaching can be a rewarding and meaningful career. When I came into the program my goal was just to pass the exams and work for a couple of years as a teacher, but as the year progressed I started to realize that the people in the program were really invested in me and they cared about making a better person out of me. They are great at creating a supportive and motivating environment. I had moments when I would walkout of an ACP classroom happy and motivated to be a better teacher, because they understand you and listen to you.

Melvin Zaldivar
Math Teacher, Sam Houston High School, Houston ISD


It took me seven years after graduating from college to realize that I was looking for a career that would give me the satisfaction I feel today. I decided to inquire about alternative certification options because I was eager to put my theoretical knowledge to the test and hence searched for the most efficient way to become a teacher. I found Harris County Department of Education (HCDE) and learned that I could accomplish my goal of being in the classroom without having to go back to college and acquire an additional degree. I can definitely say that my experience with the HCDE Alternative Certification Program has been very favorable, and has made me feel adequately prepared to face eventful days in a classroom full of enthusiastic minds. Although at times it was challenging, I cannot help but feel grateful for a delightful first year, and am extremely excited about facing a new academic year as a wiser and more mature educator.

Isabel Casella
4th grade bilingual teacher, Martin Elementary, Alief ISD


After graduating from law school and working as a law professor for two years, I felt the need to leave my home country and live abroad for a few years in order to learn about other cultures, peoples, and languages. That decision brought me to Houston, Texas in 2008. After arriving, I spent several months learning the language, getting to know the local people, and understanding their culture. Even though my original plan was to return to Colombia after two years, I fell in love with the multiculturalism, liberty, and great opportunities Texas offers locals and foreigners, alike, so I stayed.

During my first months in Houston I had the opportunity to interact with many Hispanic people, and I quickly realized that the Latino community was in great need, compared to other ethnic and racial groups. Poverty and violence was common in many Hispanic families and neighborhoods, and everything I saw indicated that lack of education was the cause. Even though public education in the United States is free, many Latino students drop out high school, perhaps because of their lack of academic success. The language barrier causes gaps for Hispanic students beginning in elementary school, and if those gaps are not closed in the primary grades, there is almost nothing we can do to guarantee success for those students by the time they get to high school.

That is when I decided to work in a place where I could make the difference, taking advantage of my Spanish language proficiency, my understanding of the Hispanic culture, and my love for teaching. There was no better place for me to start than an elementary school. Taking into account that I already had a graduate degree, I found the alternative certification program a great way to become a certified teacher in Texas. The alternative certification route valued my prior college preparation and teaching experiences so I didn’t have to secure an additional college degree to become a teacher. The HCDE Alternative Certification Program provided me with outstanding classes that prepared me to become a bilingual teacher in an American elementary school classroom, not only theory but methodology and practical hands-on experiences, as well. The instructors were highly-qualified, experienced teachers that shared all their valuable knowledge with us. They accompanied me through my first year as a teacher, offering their friendship and constant support. The HCDE-ACP is also valuable because they have continued offering additional professional development beyond those required by the state, preparing me even better and making all of us competitive teachers in the education field.

Javier Mendoza Gaviria
1st grade bilingual teacher, Don Jeter Elementary, Alvin ISD
Texas Alternative Certification Association 2014 Intern of the Year