Sneaking a peek at her phone, she wonders if they will even call her back. There were definitely a lot of openings. She could have easily slipped through the cracks. One ring, that’s all she needs- and then she’ll finally know. Sitting there, she’s reminded of how ironic it would be if she actually did get the job. After all, she probably would be the first person to come back after all these years. Would anyone recognize her? Finally, the phone rang, and she was told the news.
“A week before the teachers were back, I got the job. So two weeks before school started,” US & world history teacher Nisha Momin said.
Since the school first opened, teachers have come from various occupations, school districts, even other states before coming to NEISD. But a Johnson graduate has never joined the staff, until now.
“I graduated from Johnson in 2009; the first graduating class. I wanted to come back to Johnson and teach because I love this area; I went to this school and I would be honored to come and teach here,” Momin said.
When asked why she wanted to return to Johnson as a teacher, Momin laughed, saying she didn’t exactly plan for everything to happen the way it did.
“I’ve always been in San Antonio- I went to college at UTSA. Right now I’m also getting my Masters at UTSA; I go every Wednesday. I didn’t want to be a teacher until I got to college. That’s when I fell in love with the subject, or, the career. I was a history major. I was just, you know, applying places and I student taught here so they kinda knew me already, so I got the job,” Momin said.
It feels strange to Momin to be back at her old high school, and not just because her position has switched from student to teacher.
“It’s kind of weird because I was a student in these classrooms and now I’m the teacher, so it’s kind of weird, but yeah I like it. I definitely do. I recognize Mr. Green, Mrs. Richards, Mr. Borell, and then the sign language teacher Ms. Brigham, I had her. Mr. Avila was my PALS sponsor- there’s a lot of them that I still remember. Ms. Stokes was my English teacher in ninth grade, so a lot of them are still here, and they remember me,” Momin said.
Teaching at the high school level is also slightly unfamiliar to Momin, as she experienced teaching middle school students for two years prior to this year.
“I taught middle school at George Gervin [Academy], on the East side. Oh yeah, there’s a big difference between middle school and high school. I love high school so much better. I love the curriculum so much better; to just teach,” Momin said.
But it wasn’t until she went to college that Momin realized what kind of teacher she wanted to be, as well as what she would like her students to take away from their new history class.
“Time’s different now, so I like to teach, I like them to be more hands on. My classroom is never quiet- we’re always loud, always discussing, we’re always just having a fun time, and that’s what I wanna see in a classroom. I don’t want them to just sit there and take notes all day. I want them to appreciate history, and know how important that it is,” Momin said.
Being new can pose its challenges. However, Momin has already connected with other new teachers, as well has her history team.
“Oh, I have a great team here- there’s lots of support. My history team is amazing and they have helped me out a lot with this transition. Ms. Min, who teaches Algebra II, is also a new teacher, and she’s helped me out a lot and so she’s been a great friend,” Momin said.
Alumni or not, Momin hopes that by sharing her story, her students will be able to see that some teachers can actually relate to their students, and college is a possibility.
“It is a relatable experience because they can see a student who went to this school is now teaching there. I was in their shoes at one point. I’m new too, so the students and I are learning together. I want them to see that it is possible to go to college and get your degree, you don’t have to wait until you’re older to do it,” Momin said.