From student to teacher: Alumna gives back

Jun 4, 2024Neesha Hosein
Kazzandra Sanchez

As a student, Kazzandra Sanchez always considered school a safe space. Today, her bilingual pre-K classroom at Pasadena Independent School District offers the same for a new generation. 

“I was really into choir in high school, and it’s where I felt like myself the most,” Sanchez said. “That was because of my teachers. When you’re young, you’re at school most of your time, and I wanted to be part of that for future generations.”   

San Jac opened the right doors 

While helping her register for classes, a San Jacinto College admissions advisor explained the benefits of joining an education cohort. Sanchez agreed to sign up, although she didn’t realize its value until seeing it in action.  

“When I showed up to class, there was a group of students, all education majors,” Sanchez said. “I still wasn’t sure what the cohort thing was about, and I was just following the crowd from class to class. My first impression was that the professors were very nice and eager to help.”  

Sanchez quickly embraced the cohort experience and the unique opportunities it presented.  

“I really enjoyed being part of the cohort because we all bonded over our career interests,” Sanchez said. “We shared goals and were all inspired by our professors, who always went above and beyond to keep us motivated.” 

Sanchez completed her required observation hours at Yes Prep Charter School and Alvin ISD, getting a real-world preview. The cohort experience also created a smooth transition to Sam Houston State University and prepared her for university life.  

Forging a new path 

Kazzandra Sanchez

The pandemic interrupted her final semester at San Jac but failed to slow her momentum. After participating in the College’s virtual graduation ceremony in spring 2020 with a degree in early childhood education, she was ready for the next step.  

Sanchez transferred to SHSU. While attending, she worked in the orientation office, where she first met her mentor Jesus Bernal, dean of student advising.   

“It was a pleasure working with Kazzandra at Sam,” Bernal said. “She fit the role of an accepted student mentor perfectly; she was an excellent role-model for students as they transitioned to college. As a transfer student from San Jac, she brought an invaluable firsthand knowledge to her role. She didn’t just tell people the answers she educated them on the process. If they needed directions, she walked them to the office.”  

Sanchez graduated from SHSU in 2022 with  a bachelor’s degree in education. 

Giving back to her community 

Bernal is not surprised to see Sanchez come full circle as a teacher in the community where she grew up. 

“She loves helping people,” Bernal said. “I am proud of the person she has become, educating and uplifting the community. Pasadena is lucky to have her back. She’s going to make a big impact!” 

Sanchez’s first job as a middle school reading teacher with Pasadena ISD helped her realize she preferred working with much younger students. She transferred to kindergarten and was soon moved to pre-K, where she has been since September 2023.  

“I really love how challenging pre-K is, and I think I’ll probably be here for a while,” Sanchez said. “A big part I didn’t realize was that I literally have to teach them how to hold a pencil, and they don’t know how to draw yet.”  

Sanchez describes teaching step by step how to draw people figures with “a circle for the head and rectangle for a shirt” and simple sitting postures like “crisscross apple sauce.”  

“I have to be very specific with these kids, working with their fine motor skills,” she said. “Teaching these skills is a big transformation. They’re so sweet at this age, not afraid to be themselves. They get really excited about things like weather, snow, and music. It’s magical.” 

Learn more about San Jac's education programs


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