Teachers & Leaders
Teacher Spotlight – Kaila Velez
Kaila Velez is a kindergarten teacher at IDEA Rundberg Academy and an Austin, Texas native. We sat down to chat about her time at IDEA Public Schools and why it is important to teach in the same neighborhood where she grew up.
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How long have you worked at IDEA Public Schools?
I have been working at IDEA for five years. I started as a co-teacher, and now I am a lead kindergartener teacher at IDEA Rundberg Academy.
What was your profession before IDEA Public Schools?
I worked as a counselor in California, where I attended college. I mostly worked with students on the college application process—securing funding, educating them on the application process to a 4-year university, and instilling in them the belief of college.
What drew you to IDEA Public Schools?
My stepfather, a Rio Grande Valley native, had great things to say about IDEA Public Schools, as did many of his friends and family. Once I heard that an IDEA campus was opening in the same neighborhood where I’d grown up in Austin, Texas, I knew I wanted to join. Working for a school network that bettered children lives, especially in my own community, was a dream come true.
What do you enjoy most about working for IDEA Public Schools?
I am very blessed to be doing something I am very passionate about, every day. My aunt always said I could be a teacher. I didn’t believe her at first—I wanted to be a therapist. But I know I’m in a great position here at IDEA Rundberg, doing something I love to do—helping children through education.
How has IDEA helped you become a better teacher?
First and foremost, it’s the feedback I receive on a daily basis. I have a super, powerful manager who is always in my classroom, working with me to best support students who are struggling. IDEA ensures all managers and coaches are providing useful feedback in a positive manner. It’s never “you’re doing this wrong.” It’s always encouraging, with the focus of making me a better teacher.
What are some goals you are currently working on?
We are striving to get all of our kindergartners to complete the kindergarten curriculum and be prepared for 1st grade. We are nearing this goal with only 8 lessons to go! Another goal of ours is working on every student’s handwriting. My team stresses good penmanship, even at an early age.
To commemorate our progress, we’ve started Manic Mondays, a celebration where students get to dress up in fun ways at school. A few weeks ago, it was Pajama Day, and more recently, we did a Rainbow day, where each grade level chose a color and every student from each grade level dresses up in that color. We just want to make sure our students are coming to school, after the weekend, motivated and excited. This is just one way we’re making IDEA Rundberg’s school environment bright and fun for our scholars.
What makes you feel most successful at IDEA Public Schools?
A student’s family of mine, who only spoke Spanish, recently told me that they are so pleased with their son’s progress in school. He started the year behind in his language skills, but now is ready for the 1st grade curriculum. Seeing the improvement in my students, from the beginning to the end of the year, and fostering a relationship with families—those are the things that make me feel most successful.
I’ll never forget that particular student’s face, as he was reflecting on his success during a mini-celebration of ours, hugging a book, just happy to be at school.
What’s your favorite part about working for IDEA Public Schools?
The endless support from my IDEA Team & Family, hands down.
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