U.S. Dept. of Ed Awards TAMIU $1.3 million Grant for Teacher Recruitment Program

Texas A&M International University has received a $1.3 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Education that will support an innovative program that targets the recruitment and training of teachers for high-need education areas.

Dubbed Project RIO (Recruitment, Induction and Outreach), the three-year program will work through a two-pronged initiative: it will recruit foreign teachers who are residents of Texas and who have an interest in returning to teaching and will provide current para-professionals who possess 60 hours of college coursework with a vehicle to pursue full teacher credentials.

Dr. Rosa Maria Vida, dean of the College of Education and Project RIO director, said the Project is an innovative response to a critical need.

"The teacher shortage problem along the Texas/Mexico border is critical. Without an ample supply of teachers, it is unreasonable to expect schools to be able to carry out their instructional roles. If we are truly committed to leaving no child behind, than we must realize that schools along the Texas/Mexico border face a greater challenge in educating students who come to school under-prepared an must have specially trained teachers to best teach them. This program will work to attract and retain these quality teachers," Dr. Vida said.

Dr. Ray Keck, University president, concurred, noting that the University has long provided the lead in innovative teacher training programs throughout its service region.

"Our College of Education's accredited programs in teacher preparation have long provided the lead in innovative programs that prepare the majority of Laredo and regional teachers through its baccalaureate, alternative certification, endorsement and masters programs. This funding will help to ensure that we are able to continue to help our local and regional districts address their critical needs for teachers through a powerful collaboration between University and partner schools. It will open doors to new teachers and encourage others to remain in the profession," he said.

This past year, 60% of United Independent School District new hires were graduates of the University's College of Education programs. At Laredo Independent School District, almost 80% of teachers hired were graduates of the University's award-winning program.

The State Board of Educator Certification (SBEC) has recognized the University for its Achievement in Teacher Candidate Diversity. The University has exceeded teacher production projections and leads the state in the graduation of qualified Hispanic teachers.

Among those critical areas Project RIO will address are the shortages in bilingual education, bilingual certification for the middle-school, all-level special education, science, math and technology certification.

Pivotal to the program is a critical outreach link between College of Education faculty and an advisory council comprised of school administrators, mentors and supervising teachers from partnership schools. Another program component will be the provision of an induction period for Project participants which will provide support, in-service experiences and an assigned experienced teacher who functions as a mentor.

Over the 3-year life of the grant, the federal award will provide 75%, 65% and 50% of program support. The University will contribute a combined $508,390 or 25%, 35% and 50% of support for the Project's duration. Project Rio will begin this month and continue through 2005 with the funding support provided.

For additional information on Project RIO, contact Dr. Vida at the College of Education, 326.2420, visit offices in Killam Library 329 or email rmvida@tamiu.edu

University office hours are from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday -Friday.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Affairs and Information Services at pais@tamiu.edu