• Joseph Coleman

International Leadership of Texas: Relationships before instruction

International Leadership of Texas, College Station focuses on making connections and forming relationships between students and teachers. Two teachers, Joe Hastings and Sonia Reyna, share their experiences here of how ILTexas promotes its student’s well-being, both mentally and academically.


Emphasizing relationships, ILTexas lives out the adage “to teach me, you must know me.” Two teachers doing that exceptionally well are Joe Hastings and Sonia Reyna.


While he spent time working in engineering, Joe Hastings is now in his 21st year of teaching. When he says, “I truly love what I do,” he has the credentials to prove it with more than two decades in education. Sonia Reyna made a career shift of her own – going back to school at 36 years old to get her degree. Going to school full-time, Sonia managed to finish her four-year degree in a bit over three years, allowing her to start teaching even more quickly.


Joe spoke highly of ILTexas and the professional development opportunities the school offers him. “Living here with [Texas] A&M in our backyard, it’s such an amazing resource,” said Joe of the continued education opportunities he has. Sonia too looks to take advantage of trainings, however as a grade level administrator, she also pushes her fellow teachers to sign up for trainings in the areas they feel they could improve.


Both teachers brought up the 51/49 principle. This principle, often touted in the business world, is central to ILTexas. “First and foremost [it’s about] making that connection,” says Joe. “We’re 51/49 where 51% is relationship and 49% is academic – that’s absolutely key.” Sonia echoes this saying, “I try to build relationships with my students first; that way students trust me and can come to me with what they need […] they need to trust us as teachers in the classroom.” Not only the children though; Sonia goes on to emphasize the need to develop relationships with the parents as well.


Sonia and Joe both engage with their students intentionally, with Joe at the sixth-grade level and Sonia at the second-grade level. These teachers embody the welcoming, relationship-focused spirit that ILTexas strives for.



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