Students pursuing their teacher certification at Texas Tech-Waco are eligible for up to $20,000 in financial assistance during their final year of student-teaching.
To support the next generation of educators and help offset financial difficulties for student-teachers, Texas Tech University at Waco is offering up to $20,000 to college seniors pursuing their teaching certifications in McLennan County. The grant, which went into effect last fall and will be available through spring 2024, is part of Texas COVID Learning Acceleration Supports (TCLAS), a Texas Education Agency-funded initiative to accelerate student learning in the wake of COVID-19.
Texas Tech-Waco, a community-based higher education teaching site in partnership with McLennan Community College, allows students to complete their core curriculum requirements at the junior college before transferring to Texas Tech University for their upper-level courses. Recognizing the need for more rural educators, Texas Tech-Waco has partnered with La Vega and Lorena Independent School Districts (ISDs) to enable teacher candidates to simultaneously complete their bachelor's degrees while observing and eventually teaching alongside mentor teachers in the classroom.
This two-year teaching model has been successful at a number of regional locations throughout the state, including Lubbock and Waco. The collaborative approach enables school districts to be involved in the training process and allows students to apply the teaching strategies they are learning in the classroom. The first cohort of Texas Tech-Waco College of Education students completed their degree last May, and all graduates of the program were hired at local school districts.
“Lorena ISD is excited to partner with Texas Tech,” said Lorena ISD Superintendent Joe Kucera. “This partnership benefits the students and the district. We get the opportunity to interview interns for an entire school year and the student gets to determine whether or not Lorena ISD is the right fit. We have already hired one intern to become a full-time teacher last year and are looking to hire more this year. It is a great situation for all involved.”
Texas Tech-Waco's teacher certification program operates as a cohort model, in which teacher candidates begin classes together in the fall and remain together for the next two years. Not only do the students develop close relationships and support one another, but mentor teachers, academic advisors and site coordinators all have a hand in the candidates' success as they develop their teaching skills. At both La Vega ISD and Lorena ISD, the success and growth of the program led to the need for an additional site coordinator and the addition of more mentor teachers.
“The partnership we have with Texas Tech has been wonderful,” said Lorena ISD Assistant Superintendent Rusty Grimm. “It provides us a resource to recruit quality applicants while also allowing our mentor teachers to grow the candidates into what it means to be an educator at Lorena ISD. To be able to provide funding to the candidates while they are committed to a full-time schedule in the Texas Tech teacher preparation program is an added bonus. We feel wonderful about collaborating with Texas Tech in the growth of future educators, while also providing monetary support so that the candidates can begin their careers in good financial standing. This program has been a win-win and has been a blessing to both the Lorena ISD and the Texas Tech teacher candidates."
Texas Tech-Waco currently offers elementary and middle school teaching certifications, but plans to offer certifications for high school teachers in the near future. Applications are now being accepted for next fall. Visit the Texas Tech-Waco website for more information.