‘Behavior Basics for Teachers’ course set for MCC Continuing Education

By Corsi Crews

I am so grateful to introduce myself and announce upcoming opportunities for us to learn and grow together.

I am affectionately known as Dr. Behavior. I come by my nickname honestly, as I have been working as a behavior interventionist for more than 20 years, primarily working with the most significant behavior concerns in agencies like the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, Methodist Children’s Home, and Waco ISD. The tougher, the better … and more fulfilling!

Corsi Crews speaks at a Region 12 Gifted Education Conference.

I am a proud Tarleton Texan, as I have graduated thrice from Tarleton State University with degrees in education, criminal justice, and psychology. I also taught criminal justice for my alma mater at the University Center at McLennan Community College for nearly seven years.

The real reason you should know who I am is because I’m pretty good at connections — real, meaningful connections. The ones that make you feel the warm fuzzies in your belly when someone is near. The ones that let you know your words are heard and your feelings are respected and that even in disagreement, a resolution can be found. You know, the connections life is all about.  

Those are my jam and more importantly, my purpose.

In June, as my final school year with Waco ISD came to an end, I had a great opportunity to present my workshop, “Brave Battles with the Brain: Behavior Intervention That Works,” to the fantastic educators in our region at Region 12’s Gifted Education Conference. 

We discussed the brain and its components, especially the amygdala (our brain’s threat detector), which can perceive threats when there seemingly aren’t any and can make us feel pretty silly in the process. You see, our amygdala sounds alarms any time it feels a possible threat is near and then CHOOSES FOR US if we should fight the threat, freeze, or run away in order to stay safe. 

When it works, we stay alive. “Thank you, Amygdala!”

But sometimes, because of previous traumas and negative experiences, that alarm system can malfunction and develop a “hair trigger” that can misfire when it shouldn’t. 

That’s where I come in as Dr. Behavior. I help my students and clients understand how to identify these tricky fight, flight, or freeze responses and to practice supportive ways to RESPOND rather than REACT. You see, many of the overreactions we experience each day are related to the brain and its need to feel safe, not because somebody “made us mad.”

I mentioned a previous relationship with MCC earlier in my career, but it was actually a former Rapoport Academy colleague who connected me back to the college. After hearing about the success at the Region 12 conference, Kristi Pereira and I got to work to develop offerings for the Waco community through MCC’s Continuing Education Department. 

My first course, “Behavior Basics for Teachers,” is open for registration and will be held 8 a.m.-noon Thursday, Nov. 11, on the MCC campus. CEUs will be offered. This course is intended for teachers, paraprofessionals, counselors, and administrators and is a great classroom management course, especially for dealing with difficult students. Any educational professional would benefit from this course.

I will also be offering “Behavior Basics of the Brain for Parents and Caregivers” as a parenting support for anyone who cares for children and “Behavior Basics for Leaders” in Spring 2022. 

Join me!

I am genuinely looking forward to making new connections in the Waco community and finding ways Dr. Behavior can help in and around the community. While my courses include examples relevant for that group, the classes are not exclusionary. 

If you’ve got a classroom that’s giving you the blues or a child who struggles behaviorally or if you’re a leader who wants to be more successfuI, come join me. Everyone is welcome and can improve in connecting with others.

Course Registration Link

Keep those battles with behavior brave!

Corsi Crews, Ed.D., is a trained behavior interventionist, certified educator, and behavior coach endorsed with Texas Education Agency. With more than 20 years of experience, Crews has dedicated her career to helping children, families, educators, and leaders to improve behavior by establishing and maintaining meaningful connections and relationships. For private speaking and district training inquiries, contact me directly at 254-366-3829 or [email protected]

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

Waco ISD recognizes 2020–21 outstanding teachers

Kendrick Elementary’s Isabel Lozano also announced as Principal of the Year.

By Joshua Wucher

Waco ISD celebrated top educators in May during a special virtual Outstanding Teacher ceremony. The annual event honors all of the district’s teachers of the year for their deep commitment to student success.

“Our outstanding teachers exemplify excellence in the classroom,” said Waco ISD Superintendent Dr. Susan Kincannon. “They create unique, hands-on experiences that make instruction engaging for students and help them grow. They are shining examples of what it means to meet our mission to provide an educational foundation that empowers and values all.”

Among the educators recognized, were Bell’s Hill Elementary School first-grade teacher Lindsey Melancon and University High School ninth-grade Pre-AP biology teacher Lacey Merrifield, the district’s outstanding elementary and secondary teachers of the year, respectively.

“A successful teacher has to display a level of enthusiasm and passion for what is being taught,” said Melancon, who has taught at Bell’s Hill for eight years. “I strongly believe if we can motivate young minds, then we have created life-long learners.”

Bell’s Hill Principal Rebekah Mechell describes Melancon as an educator that “goes above and beyond to serve her students, their parents and other staff” and creates a warm and positive culture.

“I believe in immersive learning that places students in local cultures, landscapes, opportunities and experiences that can create cross-curricular connections,” said Merrifield, who coaches junior varsity softball and freshman volleyball and has been teaching for 13 years.

“Coach Merrifield continues to challenge her students daily,” said University High School Principal Dr. Ricky Edison. “She routinely engages the students in rigorous coursework and hands-on projects. She has so much passion and energy that students just gravitate to her.”

At the ceremony, the district also honored Kelly Miah, a third-grade teacher at Hillcrest PDS, and David Gerada, an assistant band director at Cesar Chavez Middle School, as the Virginia DuPuy First Year Teachers of the Year.

Like the district’s outstanding teacher awards, the recipients of the Virginia DuPuy First Year Teacher of the Year awards are nominated by their respective campuses. Named for the former mayor and advocate for public education, the awards recognize one elementary and one secondary teacher, who are starting their careers in education.

Jennifer Lundquist, principal at Hillcrest PDS, describes Miah as having “a passion to motivate students to learn and a drive to give 110% to everything she does.”

Similarly, Cesar Chavez Principal Alonzo McAdoo, says Gerada “is an incredible teacher whose actions, level of commitment and ability to be here consistently for our students encourages us all to be anchored in student success.”

Another exciting celebration happened this month at the district’s principal leadership meeting where Kendrick Elementary School’s Isabel Lozano was surprised with the announcement that she was selected as the 2020-2021 Waco ISD Principal of the Year.

“My parents instilled in me that hard work plus determination equals success,” Lozano said. “This is a humbling experience, and I feel blessed to live and work in a community that puts our kids first.”

Lozano is in her third year as principal of Kendrick Elementary School. She has previously served as a classroom teacher, instructional specialist, academic advising coordinator, middle school assistant principal, and high school assistant principal.

Kincannon said: “With a heart for children and their families, Mrs. Lozano represents the best
kind of leader in Waco ISD. I have no doubt that many of our students can see themselves and
find inspiration in Isabel’s journey to the principalship.”

A recording of the full ceremony is available here.

Joshua Wucher is Waco ISD’s executive director for communications.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

Teacher Self-Care: A Community Effort

By Jaja Chen

I often hear individuals make comments about teachers that make it seem as if they have it “well off” because of having summer vacations. While having summer off is a crucial part of teachers’ self-care and work-life balance, we often do not sit and consider the amount of energy, finances, or even time that teachers dedicate throughout the school year – year after year – to managing their classrooms and educating our children daily.

Oftentimes, teachers’ own self-care goes by the wayside because of the immense amount of needs they must tend to in their classrooms, amongst students, and to meet all the tasks and demands they face as a teacher – even outside of the classroom. This can lead to summer being used to “catch up” on sleep, health, and self-care.

While summer can be a huge part of teacher self-care, my hope is that summer is not the ONLY time when teachers are able to take care of themselves.

Here are three ways we as a community can seek to support our teachers in self-care as they return to the new school year:

1.) Honor and encourage our teachers – Coming from a Taiwanese background, educators are highly honored, valued, and esteemed. The culture of honor that East Asian cultures place on teachers is something we can learn from. How can we honor and encourage our teachers throughout the school year? Rather than making comments about how good they have it or how they shouldn’t complain about difficulties on the job due to having summer off, how can we seek to listen to and support our teachers as they deal with ongoing work-life stress?

2.)  Support healing from secondary trauma & burnout – Compassion fatigue is a common experience amongst helping professionals and is a combination of secondary trauma and burnout. Secondary trauma occurs when we continually hear about or witness, directly or indirectly, traumatic events that occur to others. Working with students and families daily exposes teachers to traumatic events and can lead to secondary trauma. Burnout, on the other hand, is feelings of ongoing exhaustion and helplessness due to inefficiencies experienced in our jobs.  When our teachers experience compassion fatigue, do we judge them or do we seek to understand? Do we point them to resources, such as individual counseling, or do we shame them? As administrators, do we seek to create policies and school cultures that enhance and support teacher self-care? Are we open to our teachers taking time off for their mental health or do we stigmatize mental health recovery?

3.) Volunteer for local school efforts & initiatives – Ensuring that our students and schools are successful and thriving is a community effort. Teachers are not the sole guardians for our children’s mental, emotional, physical health, and educations. We all have a role to play in our communities as we support teachers in their self-care. Part of this is seeing how we can play a role in supporting school initiatives, school events, and to inquire about ways to support schools as volunteers. Recognizing that we have a part to play in supporting our schools helps reduce the burdens placed on teachers to be everything to our children. Ways to be involved include supporting mentoring and tutoring programs that non-profit organizations-including Communities in Schools (CIS) and Prosper Waco – host for local schools. Local churches may also have after-school programs or book clubs to support children such as the STARS Mentoring Program.

The success of our schools requires a community effort.

What are ways you can support your local school today? And if giving of your time and/or finances is not a possibility, are there ways to connect with a fellow teacher and to encourage them as they begin their new school year. My hope is that the task of teacher self-care is seen as a community effort, not just placed on teachers themselves to figure out. There are ways that our culture and perspectives can hinder teachers from thriving in the amazing work they do. Let’s strive for creating a culture of compassion, authenticity, and empathy, as opposed to shame.

Jaja Chen, LMSW, CDWF is a private practice therapist in Waco through Enrichment Training & Counseling Solutions specializing in trauma, compassion fatigue, maternal mental health, and difficult life transitions. As an EMDR Trained Therapist, Jaja’s passion is walking alongside helping professionals whom are healing from PTSD, depression, anxiety, secondary trauma, and burnout. Jaja can be contacted via email at [email protected] or via webpage at http://enrichmenttcs.com/meet-jaja-chen/