Center for Educator Success shapes future teachers in Summer Intensive Cohort 

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July 22, 2022 by HCDE Communications

By age 64, many people might say they have had a good career and would be more than willing to hang up their hat, face retirement, and never turn back to the professional world.  

That is not the case for Francisco Philibert, which is why he spent the last two weeks in Harris County Department of Education’s (HCDE) Center for Educator Success (CES) Summer Intensive Cohort for new teacher candidates. 

“I’ve been around the block a few times, but I still feel that I have a few miles left in my career,” he said. “I’ve done a lot of things in my life, but I’ve always enjoyed teaching. I never really pursued it.” 

Francisco Philibert at the Center for Educator Success teacher bootcamp at Highpoint East, July 12, 2022.

Philibert, who spent the last sixteen years supporting the deaf and hard of hearing in the computer-aided real-time translation industry, said leaving his job to become a certified teacher was an easy and natural decision. 

“It surprises me to be at this age, reinventing myself and starting to look at something else. I thought, ‘What can I do with what I already know?’” he said. “Being around kids is like a shot of youth serum because you just can’t help but get involved with the energy and enthusiasm. It’s a delightful opportunity to discover, especially when schools have such shortages of staff and have such needs.” 

Philibert is one of 20 teacher candidates who completed their teacher certification coursework through HCDE’s Educator Certification and Advancement program, which merged HCDE’s Teaching and Learning Center earlier this year to form the Center for Educator Success. 

These candidates aim to land positions with local school districts for their internship years, during which they will be subject to a minimum of five formal observations as full-time teachers of record, meaning they are the head teacher of that classroom. 

The summer cohort allows teacher candidates to put theoretical strategies into practice and help them build cultures that support learning. 

“The summer intensive was really designed to help prepare them to be successful in starting their school year off right.,” said CES Senior Director Cynthia Brunswick, Ed.D. “What we’re working on here is less content specific and far more focused on culture, climate, and relationship building with students.” 

The two-week session featured lesson planning and classroom management strategies, mock interviews with real principals, and one-on-one feedback. Once the teacher candidates find internship placements, CES will continue to support them with observations and coaching throughout the year. 

“We want to strategically partner with districts to place them in schools that we think are the right fit and the right district for us to work with for extended support beyond their first year of internship,” said Brunswick. “We do this all because we know that this is what’s best for students. At the end of the day, all of our decisions are made on what’s best for students.” 

CES’ responsive program is also due in part to the apparent needs of districts. 

“Districts recognize when a new teacher is not adequately prepared to take over that classroom. If they’re not prepared, that’s a loss for our candidate, the students in that classroom, and the district,” said Brunswick. “We want to set up wins. We want them to be prepared and be successful. We want to work with districts with the same vision for who they’re bringing in.” 

Philibert was pleasantly surprised by the robustness of the cohort. 

“There’s a lot to keep me interested. A lot of the material I’m hearing is new for me and very relevant. I’m getting some granular information here, really nuts and bolts,” he said.  

Though he is a second-career educator, Philibert feels that his fellow cohort members, who are just beginning their careers, share his sentiments. 

“I feel very much supported that I have a group of people behind me who is helping me to cover my bases and that I do the things that need to be done,” he said. “Our goal is to be in front of a classroom in August, and for the first time, I now see that that is achievable.”

To learn more about the Center for Educator Success, visit

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