TAMIU College of Ed Gets Early Childhood Collaborative Grant

TAMIU College of Education Collaborative
Effort Gets Federal Grant for New Program

The education of children ages 3-5 will be measurably improved thanks to a grant proposal created by Texas A&M International University, the Webb County Headstart Program and The Texas Migrant Council that is funded by the Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families.

The $139,000 Grant will fund a new program, "Excellence in Early Childhood Education: The South Texas Hispanic Early Childhood Collaborative," to be administered by the TAMIU College of Education's department of Special Populations.  The award is renewable for a total of five years, dependent upon federal approval. The program was designed as a collaborative between the University and the surrounding Headstart schools.

Dr. Humberto González, TAMIU dean of the College of Education, said the successful funding was aided by the powerful collaboration that developed the proposal.

"Our success in securing this grant is a testament to the powerful collaboration TAMIU enjoys with educational institutions, and the professional staff of Webb County's Headstart Program and the Texas Migrant Council. Key researchers and writers included Dr. Miroslava Vargas, TAMIU associate professor of Education, Aliza Oliveros, director of the  Webb County Headstart program and Cristina Hernández, TAMIU director of grant resources.

The funding supports recruitment and assistance for approximately 30 Headstart teachers to enable them to obtain their BS degree in Early Childhood Education and a teaching certificate in Bilingual Education. 

The innovative program is the first of its kind in the region to combine University coursework with field experiences that take place in Webb County Headstart Schools. It also extends a successful TAMIU field-tested concept of utilizing highly-experienced, certified and retired public school teachers to monitor and mentor new teacher candidates in their own workplace.  Teacher candidates continue to hold their full time employment while they work on their degrees.

Eligible candidates for the program will be selected and prepared in accordance with the guidelines, criteria and standards set forth under the "No Child Left Behind" Act.

Proposal developers in the collaborative identified the community's needs and formulated a scholarship-based educational program that would encourage Webb County-employed teachers, with completed core curriculum, to take evening and weekend courses to complete the Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood education.  The program design may also become part of a model to initiate a possible Dual Language, research-based lab school at TAMIU, which has generated considerable advance interest from collaborative members and a local school district. 

Principal investigator for the project will be Dr. Ramón Alaniz, associate dean of the College of Education, chair of the department of Special Populations and professor of Education.

Dr. Alaniz said the program's impact will be far-reaching.

"This program will impact the South Texas region and will contribute to the dire necessity for providing highly qualified Headstart educators to serve the needs of communities that serve 'at-risk' children," said Alaniz.

 For additional information on the "Excellence in Early Childhood Education: The South Texas Hispanic Early Childhood Collaborative," contact Dr. Alaniz at 956.326. 2698, visit offices in the Sue and Radcliffe Killam Library, room 432 or e-mail ralaniz@tamiu.edu

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

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