TAMIU Receives $1.8 Million for Alternative Certification Teaching Program 2004

TAMIU Receives $1.8 Million for Alternative Certification Teaching Program

A $1.8 million federal grant will help to insure that Texas A&M International University continues to be the largest source of the region's future teachers. The grant, to be delivered over five years, will provide approximately $359,000 annually.

The Department of Education has provided the grant to assist the University's innovative teacher recruitment and retention projects, including the Alternative Transition to Teaching Program (AT3P).

In announcing the grant in Washington, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), said the grant helps to insure America's leadership role through preparing teachers.

"Our nation is facing a shortage of qualified teachers," Sen. Hutchison said, "America must stay a leader in science and technology research. This grant will help Texas recruit and retain highly skilled educators to prepare our children to be the workforce of tomorrow." Hutchison is a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education.

University president Dr. Ray Keck said the grant will encourage students to continue or consider teaching careers.

"Through this No Child Left Behind grant, this will provide support for our Alternate Transition to Teaching Program (AT3P), which recruits talented mid-career professionals and recent college graduates to teach in high-need schools through new, alternative certification routes," Dr. Keck said.

Sen. Hutchison praised the development of alternate routes and said the grant will help to streamline hiring as well.

"In addition to developing alternate routes to the classroom, this year's grantees also will work to streamline hiring timelines and procedures," Hutchison said.

Dr. Humberto R. Gonzalez, TAMIU College of Education dean, explained the Program's goal is to produce 600 highly qualified certified teachers to help alleviate the teaching shortage in the Laredo and South Texas area.

"We started the Alternative Certification Program at TAMIU in February of this year and it is approved by the State Board of Education," said Dr. Gonzalez, "This grant is recognition of the program's necessity and value to the community. We will be placing more than 120 new teachers in area school districts such as LISD, UISD, Jim Hogg, Zapata, Freer and Cotulla."

Gonzalez explained the program, now bolstered with government funds, helps students through a variety of support offerings. He said the grant recognizes the area's tremendous need for bilingual teachers and will help TAMIU students meet that need.

"Our program is extremely supportive of students who want to be teachers and are interested in alternative certification. The funding will also allow us to offer daycare, provide program cost assistance and continue to offer an outstanding Program," said Gonzalez.

Support for ACP students includes 22 Field University Teaching Mentors who participate in a one-day training to be ACP mentors, explained Gonzalez.

"They are fully certified retired teachers and administrators who will each be responsible for about ten students, observing the novice teachers, offering recommendations, visiting and conferring, helping the Program participants plan and providing feedback," he said.

Gonzalez said the grant was made possible through a collaborative effort at the University, including Dr. Ramon Alaniz, Heather Corti, Dr. Cathy Guerra, Christina Hernandez, Dr. Juan R. Lira, Crissy Maciel, Diana Rodriguez and Dr. Miroslava Vargas.

For more information about alternative certification and TAMIU's AT3P, please contact Dr. Gonzalez at 326.2420, visit offices in the Sue and Radcliffe Killam Library, room 329 or e-mail hgonzalez@tamiu.edu.

University office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through 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