"Everything that concerns you"

The Eagle's Eye

"Everything that concerns you"

The Eagle's Eye

"Everything that concerns you"

The Eagle's Eye

A helping hand in mental health

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Lorraine Tijerina, who oversees the Practicum in Human Services program, dedicates herself to being an advocate for mental health at Akins.

Tijerina works daily with students to make the world a more kind and understanding place through her program.

When Tijerina attended Akins as a high school student, she gained an interest in teaching when she joined the program Ready Set Teach program, which is run by Cecilia Guttierez. It inspired her to not only pursue teaching as a career, but also to return to work at Akins.

Tijerina recalled a moment from her first year of teaching in which she had to turn to her chalkboard to wipe a tear, and go back to teaching as if nothing happened. The adjustment process as she went to being a full time teacher was difficult, but she is now confident in her work and ability to ask for help — a vital skill for our Social Services Academy teachers and students.

“My internship is really special because SSA has people who want to help people,” Tijerina said. “We are trying to restart the Pre-Covid program “Best Buddies” with Akins Life Skills, as well as participate in AISD Special Olympics, work as peer mentors for Student Support Services, participate in volunteer opportunities, and teach mindfulness yoga to children over at Menchaca Elementary.”

Although this is a lot of goals Tijerina is trying to achieve, it’s not everything she has  done for our school. Joining the Educators Rising conference along with Ready Set Teach for the first time last year, five students of her practicum continued on to the state-level competition and received Gold Status.

“I learned to really use the strength of my interns so we can all help each other,” Tijerina said. “I’ve realized that our CTE programs are really something special and not all schools have them, they help to grow my teacher heart.”

Tijerina shared some of her favorite moments in the program with her students.

“One in particular that I can remember occurred during last year’s lock-in, which we do to bond our team, was our karaoke experience,” Tijerina said. “Just being able to see people let loose and sing their favorite songs helped us all to be more comfortable with each other and feel more like a community.”

Tijerina said that the program has many challenging moments, especially raising the funds needed for the program and its events.

“While we have many great opportunities and have been able to be a part of lots of good, it can be challenging to get to those events,” Tijerina said. “Having to raise those funds is a lot more stressful than I thought it was going to be because I want us to have rich experiences and it’s hard to do anything without money.”

Even so, the kids and teachers’ hard work has paid off in the past and the tradition is sure to continue.

Tijerina said her students give her much hope for the future of the program and teachers in general, recalling hopeful moments in the internship.

“We struggled a bit when we started mindfulness yoga, seeing (them) all train together, I loved it, but actually seeing y’all run the ship and seeing y’all become leaders in a real world situation made me hopeful,” Tijerina said.

Tijerina opened up about her unexpected experiences as an educator, and some of the difficulties that came with it.

“I honestly thought it would be easier, but I make a ton of decisions every day, most of the time I’m overstimulated, and there’s a lot more paperwork than I thought,” Tijerina said. “I think trying to stay motivated is sometimes challenging but when we do opportunities where we get into our community I think that’s what brings me back, and of course my kids do, too.”

Although it’s been a hard road, Tijerina has been able to pick herself up time and time again and has been a great leader for the next generation of upcoming teachers. Tijerina’s goal is to provide the support she wished she had when becoming a teacher, and offer mental health support to those in need.

“I really care about making sure everyone is comfortable, even those who aren’t my students,” Tijerina said. “We have a ton of support here at the school and asking for help is sometimes what you need to do.”

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About the Contributor
Morgan Messer, Staff Writer
Grade: 12 Academy: SSA Number of Years on Staff: First-Year Title: Staff Writer Why do you enjoy being on staff?: I love the staff and the room vibes What are your hobbies?: travel, swimming Hopes & Dreams after high school?: I hope to go on to get an MA in psychology 
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