Education leaders will convene at Texas Tech Dairy Barn on Friday (Dec. 3).
Leaders from West Texas universities, community colleges and school districts will gather Friday (Dec. 3) on the Texas Tech University campus to continue the development of the West Texas Rural Education Partnership, a Texas Tech-led initiative to collaboratively solve a critical shortage of high-quality teachers in rural West Texas.
The West Texas Rural Education Partnership Winter Summit will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Texas Tech Dairy Barn and will focus on school-university partnerships and strategies for delivering high-quality teacher education at a distance.
The College of Education's TechTeach educator preparation program will present its “grow your own” approach that uses innovative methods – including embedding faculty members within rural school districts – to give aspiring teachers in remote areas the opportunity to complete a university-based educator preparation program without leaving home. The event also will feature a keynote speaker on educator preparation and several breakout sessions.
“Many rural schools are facing teacher staffing challenges that even rival those found in large urban districts,” said Doug Hamman, director of West Texas Rural Education Partnership and chair of the Department of Teacher Education at Texas Tech. “Studies – and our experience with TechTeach – have shown us that teachers who are prepared in their home communities are more likely to stay long-term and develop into highly effective educators. We look forward to working together with our district and higher education partners – as one system – to better meet the needs of rural schools and communities.”
Members of the West Texas Rural Education Partnership are:
- Amarillo College
- Clarendon College
- El Paso Community College
- Frank Phillips College
- Howard College
- Midland College
- Odessa College
- South Plains College
- Western Texas College
- Texas Tech University
- University of Texas-Permian Basin
- University of Texas at El Paso
- West Texas A&M University
At the first partnership summit in June, community colleges and universities committed to forming articulation agreements that allow community college students to seamlessly transfer to education programs at four-year universities. Friday's summit represents the next steps of the partnership: strengthening connections between higher education partners and their nearby rural school districts and building educator preparation programs tailored to the unique needs of rural areas.
“This partnership is dedicated to making the recruitment and preparation of teachers in the farthest reaches of our service areas possible, convenient and affordable,” said Charles Quintela, director of teacher education programs at Odessa College. “Odessa College is happy to have this opportunity to collaborate with school districts and other post-secondary institutions to establish viable teacher preparation pathways that will strengthen the production of high-quality teachers for schools in rural West Texas. We will do all we can to tackle the shortage of educators in rural West Texas and add prestige and respect to the noble profession of teaching."
The West Texas Rural Education Partnership was established earlier this year in response to a shortage of rural educators in Texas highlighted in a 2017 report from the Texas Education Agency's Texas Rural Schools Task Force. The report identified “grow your own” educator preparation programs and collaboration between institutions of higher education and school districts as possible solutions.
“Rural districts have limited access to resources and encounter unique challenges to filling their workforces,” said Janet Hindman, department head of education at West Texas A&M University. “Along with our partners in the West Texas Rural Education Partnership, we are continually seeking innovative ways to support our districts. By working together through the collaborative, we are committed to growing rural teachers for rural communities in the Texas Panhandle and beyond.”
The West Texas Rural Education Partnership is funded by a $500,000 grant from Prentice Farrar Brown and Alline Ford Brown Foundation, a Bank of America, N.A., Trustee.
The mission of the partnership is to develop and implement an inter-institutional strategy that will provide a pathway to teaching in rural schools for community members, high school students and existing teacher candidates. Ultimately, the goal is to help staff unfilled vacancies, dramatically reduce rates of attrition and prepare teachers who are truly committed to their rural, West Texas communities. Once fully implemented, the partnership is projected to produce 200 new community-based teachers each year.