HB3 / Master Teacher Monday: Leah Paige Adams, YES Prep Public Schools

Leah 3


Master Teacher Monday: Leah Paige Adams, YES Prep Public Schools

Each month, we highlight educators who have earned the designation of ‘master teacher’ through Texas’ Teacher Incentive Allotment (TIA). TIA encourages school districts to locally develop multi-measure evaluation systems to reward and retain their most effective teachers. Those earning the ‘master teacher’ designation rank in the top 5% of educators in the entire state!

Despite her own challenging education journey, Leah Paige Adams is now an educator at YES Prep where she has earned TEA’s master teacher designation. Now, she has the opportunity to support her students’ growth and build their confidence, while earning nearly six figures.

Read Ms. Paige Adam’s Q&A below.

Tell us a little about your life and career journey.

My educational journey is both painful and rewarding. Growing up I was diagnosed with ADHD and placed in special education in kindergarten. This was before the 2005 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that helps govern how schools and teachers are to support students with special needs.

I was one of only five African American students at my elementary school in River Oaks Houston, a fact that my parents believed would provide me with the best education. This was unfortunately not the case as my school wasn’t equipped to provide learning techniques for students who learned differently. By the time I got to the sixth grade, I could barely read past four-letter words and had given up on learning.

I was completely checked out and avoided class as much as possible. My parents decided to homeschool me and my dad became my teacher. Through his years of persistence and building my confidence, I was back on grade level by the time I went to Westside High School in the 10th grade. Even still, I struggled with academic confidence and shied away from pushing myself to my full academic potential.

After the birth of my son, I dedicated myself to my studies and graduated from my master’s program with a 4.0. I truly appreciate my educational journey and firmly believe it is what drives me to be the educator I am. No matter the disability or economic situation all students can be academically confident if given the right resources, access, and educators who do everything possible to get them there.

Why did you get into education?

Given my past, I never thought I would be a teacher. However, I started working at Sharpstown High School in October 2014 where I was mentored by an amazing educator, Bridgette King, who shaped many of my beliefs and practices as a teacher. I fell in love with teaching after the first semester. Given Ms. King’s mentorship, my dad’s persistence, and my own educational experience I now believe that God led me down this path to become the educator I am today.

What is a classroom experience or specific student that has stuck with you?

I have so many experiences that bring me joy and fulfillment but one tradition that stands out is Gulfton’s annual Special Education (SPED) end-of-the-year party where we celebrate our seniors. For the last three years, I have given a personalized speech to our graduating class celebrating their growth and accomplishments. I always tell myself that I will not get emotional during these speeches and each time I can’t help but feel amazed at the growth, endurance, and overall development of my students. Nothing sticks with me more than seeing my students become successful during their educational journey.

How has being recognized and rewarded as a master teacher impacted your life?

As the main provider of my family, the privilege to be recognized as a master teacher has greatly impacted my life. The financial freedom to enjoy my summer vacations and family time without having to work a second job during the summer has been the mental break I need to be a better educator.

What is your advice to someone interested in becoming a high-performing educator?

I would say lead with empathy, be open to constructive criticism because it allows growth, and always put your students and their needs first. Borrow strategies that work for you and your students. I have learned the best techniques, lessons, and systems by copying what I have seen from other teachers who teach different subjects. I truly believe the key to being a productive educator is to be your authentic self and to develop strong relationships with your students and fellow staff members.

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