Alumni Spotlight: Jesús Luján from Teacher Education and Administration

LujanJesús Luján graduated from UNT's College of Education in December 2013 with a bachelor's degree in Interdisciplinary Studies (EC-6 generalist with bilingual). Immediately following in January 2014, he began teaching a third grade bilingual classroom at WS Ryan Elementary School in Denton ISD. We caught up with Jesús to see how his first semester is going and to look back on his experience at UNT.

Tell us about a challenge you've faced during your first year in the classroom. How did you approach it?

"I was super nervous that I had my own classroom. I was now in charge of my students' learning, something that would impact them for the rest of their lives. I'm a very organized person, but it was hard to stay organized, especially when there are so many things you have to do as a teacher to take students to where we want them to be. It all came down to what I needed to do to get the students to where they need to be."

What helped you prepare to be a successful bilingual teacher? Is there a faculty member who played a role in your success?

"Dr. Ezzani, she's fantastic. I believe she was the first one who really taught me about the TEKS. I remember going into her class not really understanding TEKS. I knew I had to teach a lesson, but she was the one that taught me it needed to be direct, it had to have a direct purpose, and to know exactly what you're teaching."

How did scholarships help you?

"I was a recipient of the Roberto Alonzo Scholarship that was offered through the bilingual program, and it just felt good to be acknowledged and feel like you're doing something prestigious to get that help. But now looking at it, I feel that it's even better because you're not having to worry about that part that you would have had to pay. But I think that's what the Roberto Alonzo Scholarship does, it really takes those bilingual teachers and offers them the best opportunity to succeed."

Were you involved in any student organizations?

"BESO (Bilingual/ESL Education Student Organization) does a fantastic job of getting the name of bilingual education out there. Bilingual education is such a big need in schools, and most people don't know that. So for me, when I was in school, I know BESO was always there as something that could support me and help me get where I needed to be. Especially with building contacts and networking through them."

What tools are you using the in classroom? Were you introduced to those at UNT?

"A lot of different technology like One Technology, the Elmo and different things like that that I learned at UNT. Especially in the L-Tech course that I had to take; LTEC 4100, if I remember correctly. It is great to go into an interview knowledgeable about current technology and how to implement that technology into the classroom."

What advice would you offer to someone seeking a career in education?

"Have a heart and have a passion for working with kids. At the end of the day, just those little moments that you see throughout the day, the little light bulbs going off, they make my day. But to someone going into education, I don't want them to think that this is something you can take likely. You are impacting people's lives. You're impacting families. So it is a very important job that needs to be taken seriously."

What are you excited about?

"The thing that I look most forward to in the future is my students. This is my first class, and I have really stressed the importance of education to them, furthering their education, going on to bigger and better things. So I'm excited to see these kids graduate from high school and graduate from college. My students know just how much I like UNT, I wear a UNT lanyard every day. And just hearing them say 'One day, Mr. Lujan, I want go like you, I want to go to UNT.' You know, it just makes me super happy because they most likely didn't think of themselves like that before."

What else would you like to say to future teachers?

"UNT did a great job with being able to prepare me for the classroom. We are very privileged in that we get a full year of student teaching. But with teaching, don't think everything has to be perfect when you're just starting. That doesn't mean you can slack, because at the end of the day, you're teaching the students and you need to do whatever you can to make sure they meet their requirements for the state and so that you build successful lifelong learners."

While at UNT, Jesús was a member of BESO (Bilingual/ESL Education Student Organization). He is currently a member of the National Association of Bilingual Education and the Texas Association of Bilingual Education. Jesús currently teaches third grade at WS Ryan Elementary.

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By Jessie Laljer, UNT's College of Education Development and External Relations Office
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