How teachNOLA Bridged the Gap Between My Dream of Teaching and the Reality of the Job

Tina Imbriano is a teachNOLA alumna and second-year teacher at Langston Hughes Academy in New Orleans, Louisiana. She is a passionate educator who strives to be an advocate and role model for her students and community. Imbriano has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Studies from Loyola University New Orleans.

Before my senior year of college, I started the grueling task of setting goals to prepare for my future. This time felt different; I would be deciding what steps to take to succeed in my future career. As I began listing personal goals for myself, I noticed a theme: I had a strong desire to help others and become a champion for equity.

Today, teaching allows me to do exactly that. Not only am I responsible for ensuring that my students learn relevant content, but I am also responsible for their education as a whole person. The decisions I make in modeling positive social behaviors, the coping mechanisms I use when faced with stressful situations, and the way in which I persist through difficult tasks will influence my students in the long run.

But I did not magically wake up ready to teach on day one. That first year as a new teacher was one of the most challenging seasons of my life. When I wasn’t teaching, I put my full effort into understanding and internalizing the curriculum, ensuring compliance with special education guidelines, communicating with families, and creating a safe and welcoming learning environment for all students. I was overwhelmed, yet reassured, knowing I had a vast support system from more experienced colleagues and administrators at Langston Hughes Academy, as well as from coaches and leaders at teachNOLA, the TNTP teacher preparation program where I gained my certification.

The support system that teachNOLA provided me as a first-year teacher was paramount. When I decided to become an educator, I was anxious about not being able to “survive” my first year of teaching due to potential stress, poor behavior management, and endless other worries. My coaches and mentors helped to put these worries to rest.

Being in front of a classroom for the first time during my summer training at teachNOLA was followed up by an influx of both positive and constructive feedback. It was then I realized I had happened upon a community of educators who were passionate about seeing others succeed. The ability to teach independently in my own classroom while also receiving real-time and consistent feedback continues to make me a stronger, more confident educator.

Pursuing the teachNOLA alternative teacher certification program allowed me to master my practice gradually and showed me there is always more room to learn and grow. I strive to set the bar higher for myself every time I enter the classroom. For example, I set a goal to improve the grade point average of my students by at least one point, and the data showed that I was able to do so through a variety of teaching techniques. A few of my students made the 3.5 and 4.0 GPA board that trimester and the proud smiles on their faces made me realize the importance of the work I was doing.

The best educators never stop learning. That is why now, as a second-year teacher, I am going back to school to obtain a Master of Science degree through teachNOLA’s partnership with Johns Hopkins University. Through this program, I am taking the skills that I learned that first year and looking at them through a different lens, adapting them based on new findings in student achievement and classroom culture.

Everything I do in the classroom is about ensuring students can find success through whatever means necessary. This includes the implementation of accommodations and modifications according to my students’ Individual Education Plans (IEPs), understanding the interests of my students and adapting the curriculum to fit them, and maintaining a comfortable space (physically and mentally) for students to learn in. The strategies that I am learning as part of my graduate program allow me to further explore techniques on how students learn best.

No matter the route you take to get there, teaching can make a lasting impact on the lives of the students with whom you build relationships. I push for the success of my students in all aspects of their lives and with a wide support network and a growth mindset, all aspiring teachers can do the same. Through hard work and dedication, and with a strong and supportive community like the one I found at teachNOLA, any new teacher can enter our classrooms ready to pursue a career in teaching for the long haul. There’s simply no greater calling—and no reason to go at it alone.

If you are considering a career in teaching, you can start training in the summer and begin teaching in the fall, earning a full salary and benefits. While the program has rolling admission, applications are being accepted through May 15. For more information on teachNOLA, or any of TNTP’s teaching fellows programs, visit

Imali Ariyarathne, seventh-grade teacher at Langston Hughes Academy, stands in front of her students while introducing them to the captivating world of science

Imali Ariyarathne, seventh-grade teacher at Langston Hughes Academy, introduces her students to the captivating world of science.

About TNTP

TNTP is the nation’s leading research, policy, and consulting organization dedicated to transforming America’s public education system, so that every generation thrives.

Today, we work side-by-side with educators, system leaders, and communities across 39 states and over 6,000 districts nationwide to reach ambitious goals for student success.

Yet the possibilities we imagine push far beyond the walls of school and the education field alone. We are catalyzing a movement across sectors to create multiple pathways for young people to achieve academic, economic, and social mobility.

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