Edinburg - The University of Texas-Pan American was recently awarded a $1.1 million grant earmarked for the recruitment and retention of high quality teachers for the Rio Grande Valley.
"Student academic achievement in the Rio Grande Valley, particularly among Hispanic limited English and economically disadvantaged students, continues to fall below state and national averages," said Leo Gomez, director of field experiences at UTPA.
According to Gomez, the Title II Quality Enhancement Program grant, awarded by the U.S. Department of Education, will be used to establish and institutionalize the South Texas Quality Teacher Recruitment, Retention and Assistance Center at The University of Texas-Pan American over a three-year period.
The new center will accomplish its recruitment and retention goals through a series of advertising and recruitment strategies aimed at promoting the teaching profession to Valley educators as well as to the general community.
"Our plan is to focus on recruiting students from UTPA, South Texas Community College and Texas State Technical College into UTPA's teacher preparation program," Gomez said. "We are also looking into recruiting potential teachers from degreed students that are not teacher certified, as well as individuals from the professional community into UTPA's Accelerated Alternative Program for Education Preparation and Certification."
According to Gomez, the new program will assist teachers who are already teaching in school districts, but who are not certified. UTPA is the largest graduating bilingual education institution in the state and the second largest teacher-certifying program, graduating more than 500 education majors every year.
"Although we have a large amount of teachers graduating from this University, it still isn't enough," said Gomez. "It is all tied into the demand for good teachers and the incredibly fast growing population here."
For more information, contact Leo Gomez at 956/381-3629.