Tuesday, officials with the Council on Regional Economic Expansion and Educational Development (CREEED) and the El Paso Community Foundation (EPCF) announced a new partnership to dramatically improve teacher training, recruitment and retention in the El Paso region.
The endeavor is backed by a $1,362,000 grant from the Prentice Farrar Brown & Alline Ford Brown Foundation, Bank of America, N.A. Trustee.
The grant will be jointly managed by CREEED and EPCF, who will work with The University of Texas at El Paso, and six independent school districts (Canutillo, El Paso, Fabens, Tornillo, Socorro, and Ysleta) initially over the next year, with the intent to expand to other school districts as part of this region-wide effort.
The grant provides funding in four areas along the teacher pipeline, including recruitment; training before teachers enter the workforce; and support for local teachers once they are in the classroom.
This grant will allow CREEED and EPCF to work hand in hand with local institutions to reimagine how to best prepare and support teachers so they are well-positioned to deliver high quality education to students now, and beyond.
“Our goal is to see that 100 percent of teachers hired in the El Paso region come from sustainable, high-quality teacher training programs,” said Amy O’Rourke, Director, Choose to Excel for CREEED.
“As one of the few organizations in the region focused solely on educational attainment, CREEED has long recognized what a difference highly effective teachers can make. That is why it is one of the four strategic areas we are investing in as we push to see 60 percent of the region’s young people hold a higher education degree by 2030.”
Some of the grant funds will be used to identify and recruit future teachers as early as grades K-12. Grant money will also support high school pathways to becoming a teacher that help students understand and master the necessary college coursework before entering high quality teacher training programs.
“The COVID-related shutdown has confirmed what many of us already knew: it takes a unique and committed person to become a teacher,” said Stephanie Otero, Vice President of Operations at EPCF. “If we can find those individuals and support them as they enter the profession, we will see student attainment, school performance, and teacher retention all rise.”
The grant will also help UTEP, CREEED, EPCF and Workforce Solutions Borderplex expand UTEP’s Miner Teacher Residency Program, a training program launched in partnership with US Prep [and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation] in 2019 to place aspiring teachers in classrooms alongside experienced teachers for the duration of a full school year.
The new funds will support up to 35 teacher residents at Socorro ISD and El Paso ISD and help the program expand to Ysleta ISD with up to 15 residents.
In addition, the grant will support the development of strategic staffing models so the residency program, which pays residents a stipend for their work, can be sustainable in the long term and continue its commitment to improving the entire teacher pipeline for years to come.
“The residency works much like a medical residency, offering teacher candidates hands-on training in the classroom as well as the opportunities to receive immediate feedback and to participate in special seminars that unpack the challenges and solutions that arise over a school year,” said Clifton Tanabe, Ph.D., dean of the College of Education of UTEP.
“Our transformation goal was to ground our teacher preparation programs on robust, practice-based, on-site coaching models. We have been aggressively working to scale this work to be able to place all teacher candidates in a residency program at one of the region’s twelve local independent school districts. We need sustained, substantive, and committed partnerships to do the real work, and this is what this grant and this partnership is all about.”
A final pool of grant money is earmarked to support new teachers once they enter the profession. UTEP and the New Teacher Center are collaborating to develop a best-in-class model to coach teachers who entered the profession within the last three years by pairing them with experienced instructional coaches.
The initial pilot for this mentorship program will work with up to 60 teachers at Canutillo ISD, Fabens ISD, and Tornillo ISD.
The grant will also support the creation of the Prentice Farrar Brown & Alline Ford Brown Fellowship.
The Prentice Farrar Brown & Alline Ford Brown Fellow will serve as the Director of the pilot and oversee a team of three instructional coaches who will be directly supporting teachers and building instructional coaching capacity within the partnering districts to ensure sustainability for the model.