The Texas Education Agency grant funds educator preparation partnerships with nine rural school districts and will support 22 prospective teachers.
Texas Tech University's focus on solving a state shortage of rural teachers earned a $484,000 grant from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to prepare 22 teachers for nine school districts in West and Central Texas.
The university's College of Education will use the grant to help solve staffing shortages and improve the flow of qualified new teachers in Brownfield, Crosbyton, Fayetteville, Floydada, Hamlin, Petersburg, Roosevelt, Roscoe and Slaton independent school districts.
"We're pleased to receive this grant, which will support aspiring teachers who are committed to serving rural communities," said Doug Hamman, chair of Texas Tech's Teacher Education Department and administrator of the grant. "We will identify members of rural communities who want to be teachers, and we will prepare them in their community specifically for that community's schools. Research shows that this homegrown approach leads to long-term retention of teacher talent."
The 22 prospective teachers will earn a bachelor's degree and teaching certification through TechTeach Across Rural Texas, an innovative educator preparation program at Texas Tech that seeks to build local pipelines of teacher talent by encouraging K-12 and community college students in rural areas to remain there and teach after graduation.
The program features a paid, yearlong teaching residency at a rural school district. Students in the program receive a $15,000 stipend during the residency and commit to teaching at the district for three years after graduation.
"Our partnership with the TechTeach Across Rural Texas program has helped us grow and develop teachers who are committed to seeing our students succeed," said Shawn Mason, superintendent at Crosbyton Consolidated Independent School District. "We are looking forward to continuing our work with Texas Tech to develop teachers for our rural districts."
The TEA awarded the grant through its Grow Your Own grant program, which is designed to facilitate increased entry of qualified, diverse candidates into the teaching profession, particularly in rural and small school settings.
The grant program was started after a direct recommendation from Commissioner of Education Mike Morath's Texas Rural Schools Task Force, whose members identified this priority issue and presented a strong recommendation to address it.
Nineteen applicants – representing school districts, charter schools and educator preparation programs from around Texas – were awarded during cycle 3 (2019-2021) of the Grow Your Own grant program. Texas Tech is one of only two institutions of higher education to be awarded in all three grant cycles. The university received a grant of $484,000 in 2019 and another of $411,000 in 2018 from the program.