My Why - Alex Castro-Wilson: From Student Leader to Teacher Leader

Image of Alex Castro-Wilson, 4th grade teacher at Benson Hill Elementary School

Alex Castro-Wilson, 4th grade teacher at Benson Hill Elementary School, Renton School District

Once a student in high school teacher academy, now a mentor

When a new teacher academy for high schoolers opened up, several teachers recommended Alex Castro-Wilson. A hard-working student with a great attitude, involved in numerous clubs, he went for it and became one of the first students enrolled in Renton Teacher Academy, part of the state’s Recruiting Washington Teachers program.

During his junior and senior year of high school, Alex got an in-depth introduction to the teaching profession as well as hands-on experience in classrooms, working with students at every grade level. He earned his first college credits in the program and years later returned as a mentor teacher.

“If it wasn’t for this program, I don’t think I’d be where I am today. I felt completely supported through the process, where I was able to feel like I could come back and really make a difference in my schools and my community here in Renton.”

Alex had another coming-full-circle experience a couple years after graduating from high school, when he got a job as a paraeducator at his childhood elementary school. Working 1:1 with kids, helping them improve their reading and math, played a formative role in Alex’s growth as an educator.

“The focus on small-group instruction gave me such a strong foundation in classroom management, how to target what it is I want to teach, so I can focus on the different needs of each student.”

Learn more about Alex in this Renton Teacher Academy video
Learn more about Alex Castro-Wilson's story

More about Recruiting Washington Teachers

Recruiting Washington Teachers (RWT) is a Grow Your Own high school teacher academy created in 2007 that aims to diversify the educator workforce, close the opportunity gap, and diminish the teacher shortage by encouraging underserved, multicultural, and multilingual students to become educators.

The Bilingual Education Initiative (BEI), launched in 2017, works to achieve the same goals, with a focus on developing future bilingual educators. 

The goal of both programs is not only to inspire more students of color to become certified teachers, but also education leaders who make a difference in their communities.

“[RWT] gave me a sense of purpose and it made me find a reason to come to school. All this time I thought there was something wrong with me for how I struggled in school until I joined [the] teacher academy and learned how to be a better student and ho w my teachers could better support me and my unique needs and learning challenges.”

— RWT student in Recruiting Washington Teachers’ 2019-20 Annual Report.

Visit for more information about steps you can take during high school to prepare for a career in teaching.

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