For Immediate Release
October 8, 2007

UTB/TSC School of Education gets $2.2 million federal grant

The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College’s School of Education will announce at a press conference on Thursday, Oct. 11 that it has received a $2.2 million five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education to produce 90 new teachers in the next four years.

School of Education officials will use the money for an alternative teaching certification program primarily geared toward professionals seeking career changes. Those accepted into the program will still need to undertake the university’s application process.

The first year of the grant will be used for planning, with the first group of students beginning coursework next summer and in the fall being placed in a classroom to teach as they finish certification work. The grant will provide a stipend for students when they are not working.

The program will focus on filling teaching needs for early childhood to fourth grades, bilingual education and science and mathematics in the Brownsville, Harlingen, La Feria, Los Fresnos, Lyford, Point Isabel and San Benito school districts.

Susan Fox, the Brownsville school district’s assistant superintendent for human resources, said teachers are needed the most in mathematics, science, special education and fine arts.

Teachers also must be hired to accommodate the district’s student growth. The district had more than 48,000 students for the 2006-07 school year and could reach the 50,000 student mark in the 2007-08 school year at its peak enrollment time of November and December.

Fox said the district looks toward UTB/TSC to fill its teaching needs, both with newly certified and alternative certified educators. The district has to fill up to 300 teaching positions yearly.“Sometimes they go into teaching and it wasn’t what it turned out to be,” she said. “We do employ a number of alternative certified people that stay with us a duration.”

 The grant will enable the school to use podcasting for the first time in its alternative certification program.

 “It’s inexpensive – most of the things you need are available – a computer, a microphone,” said Dr. Reynaldo Ramirez, associate professor and chairman of the curriculum and instruction department.  

Some of the coursework will cover lesson planning, classroom management and discipline. Students will be provided with iPods and can access information through the university’s Web site, University specialists, who Ramirez said are retired educators and administrators that assist the program, will also receive the equipment and electronic coursework.

UTB/TSC was the only institution south of San Antonio, and one of four statewide, to receive Transition to Teaching program money. Nationally 42 universities, school districts and education service centers received the grant.