"You're never too young to learn to love to teach."
That's the hoped-for summer mantra for a select group of Laredo high school students who will become the first members of a pilot Texas A&M International University summer program aimed at nurturing new professional teachers for the future.
The "Future Teacher Leadership Summer Camp, " scheduled June 4 - June 8, hopes to provide these potential teachers with valuable experiences that may encourage their continued interest in joining the profession, organizers said.
"This is part of a strategic response to the national, state and local teacher shortage. We believe that by encouraging interest in the profession at an earlier age, we can augment other teacher training efforts and help to enroll new students who are focused and committed to the profession," said Dr. Rosa Maria Vida, dean of the sponsoring College of Education.
The approximately 30 students have been selected from both Laredo and United Independent School Districts based on an application, review of their GPA, response to an essay on their interest in teaching and review by the College of Education, said Cynthia Ramirez, recruitment coordinator for the College of Education.
Ramirez said the students are an impressive group and all have indicated that in addition to entering the profession, they are keenly interested in serving in high-need areas.
"These are bright, motivated kids who think teaching is the profession for them. They've also indicated a strong interest in eventually attending A&M International and graduating in high-need areas such as math, science, special education, bilingual education, foreign languages and technology," she explained.
She said the goal for the students selected for the program is to provide them with a broad array of experiences that will enable the students to determine if teaching is indeed a field that they want to join.
"We've structured the program to offer them valuable insights including math skills building, leadership skills, educational theory, special education, teacher preparation, bilingual education and internet research skills," from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily. Instruction throughout the program will be by members of the College of Education faculty," she said.
Ramirez said the program is being offered at no cost to the students and includes breakfast and lunch. Upon completion of the program, students will receive a special certificate.
"We are fortunate in that the University has an impressive array of summer programs underway which allow us an opportunity to collaborate to provide this special experience," she said.
At the end of the summer program, the University will continue to visit with the program graduates and encourage their interest in teaching.
"We hope to continue to build on their interest, nurturing their desire to become teachers and serve as mentors as they begin their higher education pursuit. We believe that many of them will begin to make their way into our city's and region's classrooms and help to address the current and predicted teacher shortages. We are hopeful that this pilot summer program will continue to grow and expand to include larger and longer programs," Ramirez concluded.
The program is being offered in part through the College of Education's membership in the Regents Initiative, a State-wide effort of The Texas A&M University System's Board of Regents aimed at utilizing the collective resources of the A&M System, of which A&M International is a member, to address educational issues of common concern.
Through partnerships, the multi-million dollar Initiative has assisted in the funding of a variety of programs State-wide that support teachers in education preparation and provide them with important professional development opportunities.
Goals for the Initiative include increasing the productivity of the A&M System's teacher preparation programs, providing professional development opportunities, helping students and teachers in high-need areas, and systematically recruiting additional teachers in critical shortage areas.
For additional information on the Future Teacher Leadership Summer Camp, please contact Ramirez at 326.2681, visit offices in Killam Library room 321A or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com