The University of Texas-Pan American College of Education was awarded $1.5 million from the U.S. Department of Education Wednesday, Nov. 6. The funds are for the Supporting Teachers Across Rural Schools (STARS) program, a five-year program that will assist local education agencies in addressing the teacher shortage in rural school districts.
The grant - presented by Congressman Rubén Hinojosa - will allow the UTPA College of Education to recruit, prepare and certify 90-100 teachers, and then place them in school districts across the Rio Grande Valley, Corpus Christi and the surrounding counties.
"This is another example of how our University is working to help create what I call great programs that help alleviate teacher shortage facing low income schools and students throughout the country," Hinojosa said. "The program that we are celebrating today will provide many qualified teachers."
The funds will be distributed over five years. The program will receive $350,000 each year for the first three years; $300,000 the fourth year; and $150,000 during the last year.
UTPA President Miguel A. Nevárez said the University has worked vigilantly with Hinojosa to help provide the needed resources for Valley school districts, including certified teachers.
"Congressman Hinojosa has been a strong advocate for education," Nevárez said. "Our priority is to provide the best educational opportunities for students seeking certification, and it is always a pleasure to participate in these creative and innovative programs."
Students participating in the program will receive training in areas such as bilingual education, English as a Second Language, math, science and special education. The innovative training sessions will be presented using web-based courses, field-based courses and other technological resources.
"I think this program is very unique. The significance of this program is that it takes advantage of the technology that this campus has developed over the past 10 years," said Dr. Rodolfo Arévalo, provost/vice president for the Division of Academic Affairs. "This grant will allow us to follow those individuals in the program, continue to provide a service to them and make sure that they are integrated in the teaching profession."
The program is expected to begin with a three-weekend orientation seminar during the months of April and May 2003, and recruitment will begin this month.
"This grant will have a definite impact on our area," said Dr. Hilda Medrano, dean for the College of Education. "In the College of Education we try to have programs to accommodate the diverse population, and now we add Project STARS, which will help prepare teachers by using technology."
For more information, contact the College of Education at 956/381-3627.