The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley is one of 10 universities in Texas selected by The Raise Your Hand Texas Foundation to participate in the inaugural Raising Texas Teachers (RTT) scholarship initiative.
The RTT program will provide $50 million, to be distributed among the 10 schools over the next 10 years, in scholarships for students committed to a career in teaching, and technical support for premier Texas teacher preparation programs.
The investment is part of H-E-B Chairman and CEO Charles Butt’s continued philanthropic commitment to public education in Texas. Earlier this year, Butt pledged more than $100 million to establish The Holdsworth Center, a leadership institute devoted to supporting and developing public school leaders.
Dr. Criselda Garcia, UTRGV associate dean for Initial Preparation Programs and Academic Affairs, College of Education and P-16 Integration, and the university’s RTT program leader, said UTRGV is committed to preparing the caliber of teachers that all children deserve.
“Doing so requires coupling coursework with clinical experiences that are of sufficient breadth and depth to allow for the bridging of theory to practice in authentic settings,” she said. “STEP UP is designed to do just that. Our teacher candidates are placed in partner schools for a full academic year beginning on the first day that teacher reports to campus.
“Together, we and our district partners provide high-quality, rigorous experiences with significant support, ensuring that graduates are well equipped to meet the needs of all learners, both academic and affective. Our goal is to graduate pre-service teachers that are more reflective of second-year in-service teachers,” Garcia said.
The scholarship program will grow to include at least 500 teaching fellows annually from more than 10 university teacher-preparation programs. Each teaching fellow will receive $8,000 per year as part of the Charles Butt Scholarship for Aspiring Teachers, as well as ongoing training and development opportunities, mentorship from sitting public school educators, and involvement in a statewide aspiring teachers network facilitated by Raise Your Hand.
The program will expand over time to include leadership development opportunities for the state’s top high school students interested in a career in education. Partner universities will also receive technical assistance support to increase the quality of teacher preparation in Texas.
“Research consistently shows that the strength of the teacher makes the biggest difference in influencing a student’s success,” Charles Butt said. “To improve academic achievement, it is critical that Texas elevate the status of the teaching profession, strengthen the existing pool of aspiring teachers, and inspire our most talented high school graduates to consider a career in teaching.”
Dr. Patricia McHatton, dean of the UTRGV College of Education and P-16 Integration, said she is pleased and honored to be included among the 10 Texas universities on the list.
“Our commitment to providing UTRGV students with every opportunity possible is one of our core priorities, and these scholarships will help us offer even more support as we prepare our students to become teachers,” McHatton said. “We thank Mr. Butt for his commitment to supporting excellence in teaching, and for creating a pathway for students serious about a career in education.”
Alison Badgett, executive director of Raise Your Hand Texas, said the goal of Raising Texas Teachers is to support universities who are rigorously preparing students to address the needs of 21st century students, and to help them to recruit the best and brightest to the profession.
“Too often, teachers are asked to learn on the job with too little formal training in the practice of teaching,” she said. “We wouldn’t ask a pilot to learn on the job, nor a doctor, without close supervision from an expert practitioner. The profession of teaching, and the education of our children, is no less important.”
University partners were selected through a competitive RFP process based on their capacity and commitment to deliver competency-based clinical preparation, and a willingness to establish strong collaborative relationships with districts where graduates teach.
RAISING TEXAS TEACHERS – UNIVERSITY PARTNERS
· University of Texas Rio Grande Valley – Student Teacher Educator Preparation: University Partnership (Edinburg).
· Our Lady of the Lake (San Antonio).
· Rice University (Houston).
· Southern Methodist University (Dallas).
· Texas A&M University – Special Education (College Station).
· Texas Tech University (Lubbock).
· Trinity University (San Antonio).
· University of North Texas-Dallas (Dallas).
· University of Houston (Houston).
· University of Texas Austin (Austin).
A second cohort of emerging teacher preparation programs will receive technical assistance to improve their programs, and will be eligible for scholarship funding in the future.
For more about the initiative and RFP process, visit RaisingTexasTeachers.org.
ABOUT RAISE YOUR HAND TEXAS FOUNDATION
The Raise Your Hand Texas Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that supports programmatic initiatives structured to identify, pilot and scale systemic improvements in public education.