The statewide program will benefit 10 universities over the next decade.
Students in the Texas Tech University College of Education's TechTeach program may soon have an easier time getting out of debt after finishing their education, thanks to the new Raising Texas Teachers scholarship program announced Monday (July 10).
"Raising Texas Teachers is a grant from the Raise Your Hand Texas Foundation,” said Sherre Heider, a professional development facilitator with the TechTeach program. "This opportunity will provide candidates who might not always be able to be in the teaching profession a chance to join our program through the use of scholarships, ongoing professional development and training, and support to ensure they're classroom-ready day one.”
The statewide program will provide $50 million to 10 universities over the next decade, thanks to an investment by Charles Butt, chairman and CEO of the H-E-B Grocery Company. The program also will grow over time; up to 150 teacher candidates will receive $8,000 scholarships in the first year, and that number will increase to 500 students annually by the program's fourth year.
"Nationally, the teaching profession is still seen as something that is not respected and not well-paid,” Heider said. "We'll have a lot of people who are strong in their content and want to be teachers but don't want to go to school and incur all that debt and then not have a job that can pay off that debt quickly. One way the grant for these scholarships will help us is it takes that off the table. If they can potentially start their teaching profession not in debt, that makes it a little bit easier to go into the teaching profession.
"Mr. Butt realizes the strength of a teacher has a great impact on the students' success in the classroom, therefore he finds this a worthwhile endeavor to help teacher candidates who otherwise might not be able to attend college, be able to go with this scholarship.”
Depending on the number of Charles Butt Scholars selected from Texas Tech, the university could receive between $200,000 and $1 million each year.
"The educational field unfortunately does not have a lot of money all the time, so grants are a wonderful way to remove those financial barriers so we can recruit the best, based on their abilities, their skillsets and their strengths, and the end result is that our K-12 students receive the best teacher in their classrooms, which is ultimately the goal,” Heider said. "We always aim to recruit the best teacher candidates of the highest caliber, but now that this scholarship opportunity is in place, we can remove the financial barrier for teacher candidates.”
Each university in the program will work with Raise Your Hand Texas to create an application process, then applicants will undergo panel interviews before being admitted. The application and interview process will begin this fall for incoming students and the scholarships will be implemented in spring 2018.
The Raise Your Hand Texas Foundation selected the participating universities based upon their adherence to best practice criteria in teacher preparation, including:
- Use of an effective clinical model
- Competency-based approach
- Rigorous and relevant academic programming
- Partnership with public schools
- Placement of teachers in Texas' highest-needs classrooms
- Recruitment and selection of quality candidates
- Provision of teacher candidate support
"Every teacher preparation program varies in its ability to prepare effective teacher candidates. TechTeach was chosen due to the clinically intensive portion of our program,” Heider said. "Our teacher candidates begin with a quality mentor teacher day one. They are in the classrooms doing professional development and training, preparing that room for the students, and then they stay with that mentor teacher for the duration of the school year so they can see what it means to develop, create lessons, implement lessons and assess students so when they do finish our program and begin their job, on day one they are ready for the students in their classroom who they will serve.
"A lot of our partnering districts that have hired our teacher candidates have stated the clinically intensive year really sets our candidates apart, in that they're really a second-year teacher – by abilities and skill set – when they begin, day one.”