The funding will allow the college to recruit and prepare more teachers for rural school districts.
After a new round of grant funding from the Texas Education Agency (TEA), Texas Tech University's College of Education is expanding efforts to increase the quality and diversity of teachers in rural school districts.
Texas Tech received $484,000 through TEA's "Grow Your Own" grant program, which will go toward growing TechTeach Across Rural Texas, an innovative program in the College of Education that recruits and prepares teachers specifically for rural school districts.
The program was launched in 2018 after Texas Tech received $411,000 from the same TEA grant program. Five school districts initially partnered with Texas Tech for the program – Floydada, Crosbyton, Roosevelt, Slaton and Tahoka Independent School Districts (ISDs). The partnership will now include Brownfield, Dawson, Fayetteville and Hamlin ISDs.
Springlake-Earth and Muleshoe ISDs also are partnering with Texas Tech after they separately received grant funding from the TEA. In all, Texas Tech will help prepare 38 full-time teachers for the 11 districts thanks to the latest round of TEA funding.
"We are honored to be working with so many rural districts in this grant cycle," said Doug Hamman, chairman of Texas Tech's Teacher Education Department and administrator of the grant. "We remain hopeful that Texas Tech can contribute to a lasting solution to address teacher-talent needs in rural areas across the state."
TechTeach Across Rural Texas is an accelerated program that includes a focus on building a local pipeline of teacher talent by encouraging K-12 and community college students in rural areas to remain there and teach after graduation. Candidates can earn a bachelor's degree and teaching certification in three calendar years.
The program also features a rigorous, yearlong teaching residency at the school district where teacher candidates will eventually work. The grant funds are used to offer a $15,000 stipend to support candidates during the residency, which is longer than the minimum 12 weeks required by state law.
"As a small rural school, we look forward to this opportunity of helping locally qualified candidates fulfill their dreams of becoming teachers and giving back to their own community," said Jeff Harvey, superintendent at Fayetteville ISD. "Our partnership with Texas Tech University is truly providing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a number of our candidates. We couldn't be more excited to get started."
"The program will allow our students to get a teaching certificate in a shorter amount of time than the traditional route, and they will enter the classroom with the skills of a second-year teacher," said Misti Shoemaker, coordinator at Hamlin Career Academy in Hamlin ISD. "It will help our school system ensure quality educators for years to come."
The new partnerships come after Texas Tech hosted a conference in the fall aimed at educating Texas school districts about the university's nationally recognized teacher preparation programs and the TEA "Grow Your Own" grants. Interested school districts can get more information at another conference planned for September.
"We have learned quite a lot from our work with rural districts in West Texas and with community college programs around the state," Hamman said. "This conference gives us a chance to share these ideas with other districts and universities and learn from their successful partnerships to build teacher-talent pipelines for districts most in need."