The T.L.L. Temple Foundation (TLLTF) and the Texas Pioneer Foundation recently awarded a five-year $1,137,835 grant to Texas A&M University – Texarkana (TAMUT) to work on building a teacher pipeline to help address the teacher shortage, a high concern shared by school leaders across the country. While many universities talk about high school recruitment to their teacher program, TAMUT is working to develop the teacher talent pipeline as early as 3rd grade and continuing all the way through earning a college credential or degree. “Effective teachers are critical to ensuring that young people learn,” said Wynn Rosser, TLLTF’s president and chief executive officer. “We need more effective teachers, and this approach is exciting because Texarkana-area youth will be prepared to give back to their community while entering a profession with career potential.”
Working with four school districts in Bowie County Texas and Miller County Arkansas, (Pleasant Grove ISD, Liberty-Eylau ISD, Texarkana ISD, and Texarkana Arkansas ISD), TAMUT’s “Eagles Teach” program plan is muti-layered with 3rd to 8th-grade career exploration and awareness activities each year and dual credit pathways for high school students 9th through 12th grade. Two high school pathways will be offered. One will provide dual credit courses leading to a CTE Public Service Endorsement with a TEA paraprofessional certificate that will allow a student to enter a paraprofessional job immediately upon high school graduation. The other pathway will provide the Texas 42-hour undergraduate core college courses to prepare students to enter TAMUT ready for upper-level education courses.
“We are pleased to join the T.L.L. Temple Foundation in providing funding for this exciting new program that will provide a low-cost pathway for students to achieve a career in education and increase the number of certified teachers and paraprofessionals in our region,” said Fred Markham, Executive Director, Texas Pioneer Foundation.
The five-year project will be led by the TAMUT College of Education faculty working closely with their school partners. The student-to-TAMUT relationship-building and awareness for careers in teaching include on-site university camps for young students, career fairs showcasing a variety of careers in education, and support services for dual credit pathway courses at the high schools. The plan will also train high school students in the Eagles Teach program to become paid tutors in their own districts and include on-site university Saturday workshops to advance the student’s learning in effective teaching and familiarize them with TAMUT College of Education faculty.
“Education is an incredibly noble and rewarding profession; however, we live in an area of extreme poverty which is exacerbated by the current rate of inflation,” commented C. Kelly Cordray, EdD. Chair and Assistant Professor in the Department of Teaching and Professional Programs in Education, TAMUT. “Through this grant, we can directly impact the poverty level and success trajectory of participants. I am most excited to watch the transition from fear and uncertainty regarding how to make college a reality to confidence and pride in first generation college graduates’ accomplishments.”
The TAMUT faculty is committed to working with school districts to set targets to ensure historically underrepresented students are identified early and are equitably represented in all program activities. To address this, the partnering school districts and higher education partners have agreed to remove barriers to the cost of dual credit courses for students and families to encourage optimal access to this opportunity.