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Home | Tag Archives: El Paso ISD

Tag Archives: El Paso ISD

Video+Gallery+Story: EPISD students stage smash musical ‘Rock of Ages’

EPISD Fine Arts takes a road trip back to the 1980s on Los Angeles’ Sunset Strip this summer as they stage “Rock of Ages” at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday at Bowie High School.

From the moment the production begins to the “Don’t Stop Believin’” finale, expect hit after hit of legendary 80s classics guaranteed to take the audience back to 1987.

“It’s going to be an amazing show,” said Chapin junior Ariayana Anaya, who plays the female lead, Sherrie.” It has something for everyone, and I think that the audience will appreciate what we’ve done.”

Anaya’s character is a wannabe actress who hails from Kansas. She falls for Drew, an aspiring rock star who works as a busboy at the Bourbon Room. It is Anaya’s first experience with the annual summer musical, but she enjoys singing the familiar songs.

“My mom is love with 80s music,” she said. “It’s all she ever listens to, so I grew up listening to it.”

The show is expected to be particularly appealing to the parents in the audience.

“The adults are going to enjoy it because it has a bunch of 80s songs that were popular when they were our age and going through some of the things our characters were going through,” said 2019 Austin grad Dante Salcido, who plays Drew.

Over the years, fine arts has staged classics such as “The Pajama Games,” “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” “My Fair Lady” but last year began opted to go a bit more modern with the smash Broadway and film hit “Hairspray” and continued this new tradition with its 34th summer musical.

“We’ve done almost all of the classics,” said fine arts director Phillip Barraza. “This year, there was a demand to do something new and different, so we went with new, back to the 1980s with ‘Rock of Ages.’”

Barraza spent some of his afternoons on stage with the cast during rehearsals, choreographing the numbers. He proudly stood below the stage watching as the cast belted out its rendition “It’s the Final Countdown.”

“There’s a lot going on here,” Barraza said. “We have students learning costuming, students sharpening their rock guitar skills, and students sharpening their singing, dancing and acting skills. And we cannot forget our tech crew that is learning to use the lighting.”

The summer musicals are known for the combination of districtwide talent that comes together year after year to bring a show to life.

“The summer musical brings out the best actors, singers, and musicians – culminating in one EPISD production,” Barraza said.

Salcido sums up the summer musical best with a sports analogy: “In sports, we have an all-star game and for theater in EPISD, we have summer musical and that’s really cool.”

Story by Reneé de Santos  |   Photos by Leonel Monroy   |  Video by EPISD

EPISD students earn national championships at national technology competition

Two of the country’s best young robot-makers are students here in the El Paso Independent School District.

Hornedo Middle School’s Daniyal Dawood and Dante Peinado earned first place in the microcontroller design category of the 2019 National Technology Student Association Competition in Washington, D.C., earlier this month.

A second EPISD team also earned a national title at the 2019 NTSA competition. Five students from Chapin High School earned first place in engineering design.

The Hornedo team built a service robot using an open-source physical computing platform and a printed circuit board designed by Daniyal.  The robot was able to follow light and avoid obstacles.

Most impressive of all, the robot was controlled using a smart-phone app that Daniyal and Dante also designed.

Hornedo Robotics’ Daniyal Dawood & Dante Peinado (not pictured)

Hornedo teacher Mike Quarles said this is the first time an Hornedo team has won a national championship at the robotics and technology competition.

Daniyal was present at the competition in Washington to receive the award.

Peinado was unable to attend.

Author: Gustavo Reveles – EPISD

El Paso ISD students learn English in a SNAP

English learners from all over EPISD spent a couple of weeks developing their vocabulary skills in an innovative camp that combined language acquisition with active learning.

The Summer Newcomers Academy Program, or SNAP, allowed middle-school students who are learning English the opportunity to hone their English skills at one of four camps.

Teacher Jerusha Hunt, the coordinator of the program, said SNAP is designed to get the students ready for a full year of active learning in English when the 2019-20 school year kicks off in August.

The camps were held at Armendariz, Bassett, Guillen and Ross middle schools.

SNAP programming ended on June 20, with a showcase of all the fun activities in which the students engaged during the two-week program.

Those projects included balloon racing and water rockets.

Story by Gustavo Reveles  |  Photos by Leonel Monroy – EPISD

Video+Gallery+Story: EPISD Principals try out, select innovative classroom furniture

More than 50 EPISD principals tested out new and innovative chairs, desks and equipment at Brown Middle School this week to help them update and further transform their classrooms into creative learning spaces.

The 55 campuses invited to the furniture expo are not part of the Bond 2016 modernization program but were recently allocated $5 million to purchase the new and innovative furniture.

“Gone are the days of having students sit on rows of stiff desks in front of a chalkboard,” said Superintendent Juan E. Cabrera. “The furniture and amenities we need in classrooms today are conducive to small-group learning and to different types of instruction. We want every corner and nook of the classroom to be a learning space, and our furniture must match that desire.”

The new generation of classroom furnishings take more into consideration ergonomics, posture, adjustability and portability to support students as they work individually and collaboratively.

Each of the pieces promotes active learning. MooreCo Inc. filled a classroom with a variety of their innovative furnishings including pods, moveable desks, cushioned seating chairs and charging stations for the principals to check out and start their purchases.

“What we define as active learning comes with the four Cs: collaboration, critical thinking, creativity and communication,” said Paola Moore, MooreCo Inc. director of marketing. “All of our desks and chairs are thought to promote that so they’re easy to maneuver. If the teacher decides to do group learning, the kids participate in the configuration of the classroom.”

Magoffin Middle Principal Bonnie Portillo tested out an adjustable desk with wheels and a moveable tabletop – an essential improvement from the clunky old desks soon-to-be obsolete in most classrooms.

“Just to get a look at the samples of what we could actually buy is so much better than looking at it in the magazine,” Portillo said. “I’ve enjoyed seeing it up close and personal and be able to interact with it.”

Story by Reneé de Santos   |  Photos by Leonel Monroy  |  Video by Raymond Jackson – EPISD

El Paso ISD Athletic Director honored for contributions to girls in sports

Maria Kennedy, EPISD’s athletic director, will be honored by the Texas Girls Coaches Association next month for the work she had done on behalf of women in sports throughout the state.

Kennedy will receive the Margaret McKown Distinguished Service Award from the association during their annual banquet on July 11 at the Arlington Convention Center.

The award honors individuals who have made outstanding contributions to girls’ athletics in Texas.

A longtime coach and administrator, Kennedy has been EPISD’s athletic director since 2016.  Before that, she served as interim athletic director and assistant athletic director for the District. She is EPISD’s second female athletic director.

Kennedy began her education career in Victoria, Texas, where she served as a physical-education teacher. She moved to El Paso in 1986 to teach and coach at Coldwell Elementary School and Irvin High School.

Kennedy also served as the head girls basketball coach at Franklin High School for 11 years.

Since her appointment as athletic director, Kennedy has overseen the historic investment in athletic facilities that are part of the Bond 2016 school modernization program.

Story by Gustavo Reveles – EPISD

New principals announced for EPISD’s Burges, Morehead/Johnson Schools

Officials with the El Paso Independent School District (EPISD) announced on Friday the appointment of two experienced educators as principals at Burges High School and Morehead Middle/Johnson Elementary School.

Christopher Smith is the new permanent principal at Burges and Peggy Gustafson is the new interim principal at Morehead/Johnson.

“Mr. Smith and Ms. Gustafson are long-time educators that understand EPISD’s vision of innovation and high-quality education,” Superintendent Juan E. Cabrera said. “I am confident that under their leadership, Burges and Morehead will continue to flourish.”

Smith, whose start date is July 15, comes to Burges after serving as principal at Manor New Tech Middle School in Manor, Texas. He previously served as principal at Terrace Hill Middle School at EPISD. A former staff sergeant with the U.S. Army, Smith taught math in EPISD and served as a track and field head coach during his previous tenure in the District.

He will replace Jason Long, who has served as interim principal at the school since March.

Gustafson will move to Morehead/Johnson, effective immediately, after serving as principal of Fannin Elementary School since 2014.  The two schools are scheduled to consolidate as part of the voter-approved Bond 2016 school modernization program.

Gustafson previously served as principal of the Northwest Early College High School in the Canutillo school district and was an assistant principal at Bowie High School. She has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of North Dakota and master’s degrees from the University of Texas at El Paso and New Mexico State University.

Gustafson will replace former Morehead principal Dr. Armando Gallegos who is now the interim principal at Jefferson High School and Silva Health Magnet High School; and Johnson Principal Dr. Karla Montemayor, who will return to the Rio Grande Valley later this month.

Story by Gustavo Reveles – EPISD

Video+Gallery+Story: Students showcase talents at 2019 Cultural Arts Experience

EPISD middle school students strengthened their fine-arts skills and showcased their talent in singing, acting, painting and poetry this summer during the 2019 Cultural Arts Experience at Morehead.

The experience gave more than 60 students a chance to dabble in different areas of fine arts during the three-week camp while also bonding with students from throughout the district. The program, formally known as the Renaissance Experience, had only been open to gifted and talented students but this year was open to all middle school students in EPISD.

“It’s a good way for kids to get creative in the summer,” said Franklin junior Madilyn Anderson, who has both participated and volunteered in the program. “My favorite thing about this program is seeing the projects come together at the end.”

Inside the Morehead cafeteria, students gathered around a piano to sing, while others spread out across tables drawing and painting. A half dozen students sat on the stage preparing for a play rehearsal while others worked on poetry.

“I think it’s nice because you get to learn new stuff and you get out of your comfort zone,” said Avery Awalt, a Lincoln sixth grader. “If you like painting, you can paint. If you like theater, you can act, and you get to make new friends.”

The opportunity to learn fencing initially drew El Paso High freshman Rene Diaz into the program three years ago – a signature activity of the late Renaissance experience. The revamped program will offer different themes but will continue its focus on fine arts.

“It’s a fun program. You get to do a lot of stuff,” said Diaz, a budding artist. “I fell in love with it when I joined in.”

More subtly, the camp supports students social-emotional learning.

“The cool thing about the camp is that you see the SEL strategies have really helped the kids blossom,” said EPISD Gifted-and-Talented Facilitator Cuyler Anderson. “We have several students who were super shy when they came in and, now, they are literally the life of the party.”

Story by Reneé de Santos   |  Photos by Leonel Monroy   |  Video: Angel Dominguez and Raymond Jackson – EPISD

EPISD Board names new Northeast school in honor of Capt. Gabriel Navarrete

Students in Northeast El Paso will soon attend a new school whose name celebrates the memory of a local veteran who fought for the freedom of our country during World War II.

The EPISD Board of Trustees this week chose the name of Capt. Gabriel Navarrete for the new middle school that will be built on Fort Bliss property.

“The name is very fitting and it celebrates the life of a man who made tremendous contributions to our community throughout his life,” said Board President Bob Geske. “It is a very appropriate name, too, since the construction of this campus is made possible by a partnership with Fort Bliss.”

Navarrete was part of the legendary U.S. Army’s Company E that was composed chiefly of Mexican-American young men from El Paso and served valiantly during the war.

The school will be built using Bond 2016 funds on land leased by EPISD from Fort Bliss near the site of the current William Beaumont Army Medical Center.  The 25-year lease was approved by the Board this week.

The new Navarrete Middle will merge the students of Bassett and Armendariz middle schools.

Navarrete was born in El Paso in 1915 and enlisted in the Army in 1940. He quickly rose through the ranks and served under Capt. John Chapin during WWII. He participated in four battles and was wounded eight times during his service in Europe.

For his service, he obtained the coveted Combat Infantry Badge as well as four Purple Heart medals, two Silver Star medals, a Distinguished Service Cross medal and a Medal of Honor.

After the service he settled back home in El Paso and worked for decades as the County Veterans Service Officer, helping hundreds of local veterans secure the services and honors they deserved.

He married his wife Elvira and had four children. Navarrete passed away in 1988.

The EPISD Board considered three names submitted by the community: Navarrete, former Supreme Court Justice and Austin High School alumna Sandra Day O’Connor, and artist José Cisneros.

Author: Gustavo Reveles – EPISD

El Paso ISD teachers to receive 6% pay raise; Bus drivers, nurses to see boost as well

Teachers in the El Paso Independent School District will see an average salary increase of 6 percent in the upcoming 2019-20 academic year as part of a compensation package that was approved by the Board of Trustees on Tuesday.

Starting teachers with zero years of experience will earn $50,556 starting in August, up from $48,300 during the school year that ended in May.  All other teachers will see an average increase of 6%  from their base salary.

Trustees also approved a 5 percent salary increase from the mid-point for all other employees in the District. Part of the compensation package is a winter stipend of $750 for eligible full-time employees and a potential $500 spring stipend that is contingent on fund availability and Board approval.

“EPISD is committed to ensuring that we recruit and retain high-quality educators, and this compensation package strengthens our resolve to provide salaries that help us reach our goals,” Superintendent Juan E. Cabrera said. “The District has worked hard to create a healthy and sustainable financial outlook, and – coupled with changes in the state funding formula – this has allowed us to offer more competitive salaries for our employees.”

The Board on Tuesday voted to amend the 2019-20 budget to reflect an increase of $42.6 million in state funding, which the Texas Legislature earmarked largely to fund salary increases and other academic initiatives.

The compensation package also includes starting salary increases for school nurses and bus drivers.  Nurses will see their starting salary will increase to $48,300 from $42,200.

Bus driver starting pay will increase to $15 per hour from $10.70 per hour.

The funding from the state also will funnel $13 million into academic and school-safety measures that include the expansion of full-day pre-kindergarten at schools throughout the District, as well as the purchase and update of important radio and safety technology for EPISD’s Police Services.

Story by Gustavo Reveles – EPISD

Video+Story: New Summer Medical Prep Academy treats students to fun learning

Computer-controlled robots mazed through the hallways while students learned CPR on manikins just across campus.  Meanwhile, students crime-scene investigations were happening at a different corner of the school, near the area where students were engaging in nutrition classes and CrossFit-like workouts.

This is all part of the innovative EPISD Summer Medical Prep Academy — an intense three-week camp where more than 550 middle-school students are learning the basics of health using STEM education.

The new camp replaced the former Developing Research and Early Aspirations Medical Scholars (DREAMS) and offers similar opportunities to students for all EPISD middle schools.

The program, previously housed at Silva Health Magnet, had been limited to incoming sixth graders at Title 1 campuses. The Academy has now been moved to Henderson and is open to any incoming middle-school student in the District.

“This is a great way to keep your brain active during the summer,” said Hornedo sixth grader Merrik Brewer. “It’s important to keep the brain active because it’s good for your learning.”

Merrik joined the program because of its promise of robotics and crime-solving activities and looks forward to the exercise component to beef up his soccer game. His fellow Hornedo classmate Jose Escobedo sees the academy as an opportunity for career exploration.

“I’ve learned how to take DNA out of a strawberry and learn how to solve a crime based on people’s stomach content,” Jose said. “I like learning, and this is fun learning.”

Academy coordinator Ashley Sheldon explained that the hands-on projects and activities build students’ experiences and knowledge without appearing to be like regular school.

“We work really hard to make sure that there are no handouts, no lectures,” Sheldon said. “They’re sharing things and they don’t even realize that they’ve learned things at this point because they didn’t take any notes or listen to a teacher lecture. They just worked hands-on with projects.”

All aspects of the medical prep program are student-driven, teacher-facilitated – especially the robotics section.

“The teacher’s there to help them, but they come up with our own robot design with their own claw and their own programming,” Sheldon said. “By the end, and they get a robot through the obstacle course where before they had no knowledge of how to do that.”

Every three days, the students rotate through the forensics, medical applications and robotics.  Students solve a crime through DNA, fingerprinting and fiber analysis during the forensics piece. In the medical applications segment, students learn to take each other’s blood pressure and use a practice doll to apply chest compressions for a lesson in basic CPR. A Cross-Fit-like activity – known as Raise Up the Bar – gets their heart rates up and complements a nutritional component.

“The kids are loving it,” said Bobby Macias, who created Raise Up the Bar at Ross Middle. “They’ve been very receptive to trying new things.”

The component introduces students to a variety of exercises associated with Cross-Fit-like classes including push-ups, squats, lunges and 400-meter runs.

“We’ve been introducing them to functional movements, and we’ve noticed the friendships they are forging while doing the workouts,” Macias said. “A lot of them are saying ‘I wish we had this class at our school.’”

Meanwhile, in the nutrition classroom, students examined test tubes with different foods and taking note of their fat and calorie content. The kids got a visual perspective of the fat in foods common in their diets: brownies, buttered popcorn, cheese, ice cream sandwiches, an apple and pudding.

“Check out the fats,” said JaMya Lynn-Carswell, holding a tube labeled trail mix 350 calories and 22 grams of fat for a half-cup serving. “I was surprised by the trail mix. I see a lot of people eating trail mix in exercise commercials but they’re eating more fat.”

Story: Reneé de Santos | Photos: Leonel Monroy  |  Video: Raymond Jackson and Angel Dominguez / EPISD

El Paso ISD announces personnel announcements

The El Paso Independent School District on Friday announced the appointment of experienced educators to key campus and school leadership positions.

Anna Torres is EPISD’s interim Assistant Superintendent of Elementary School. Torres will join Dr. Blanca Garcia, EPISD’s other Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Schools, in supporting and guiding the District’s elementary campuses. Torres most recently served as EPISD’s Coordinator of Improvement Planning in the Academics and Leadership Division.

Teresa Zamarripa is the new Director of Transformation Talent Development in EPISD’s Office of Transformation, where she will provide leadership development to the schools that form part of the District’s Transformation Zone. Zamarripa most recently served as principal at Guillen Middle School.

Dr. Armando Gallegos is the interim principal at Jefferson High and the Silva Health Magnet. Gallegos previously served as principal at Morehead Middle School. Angela Henderson, EPISD’s Assistant Superintendent of Middle Schools, will oversee Morehead in the interim.

Corina Favela is the permanent principal at Brown Middle School. Favela had served as interim principal at Brown since January and previously also served as interim principal at Charles Middle School.

Leticia Ewing is the permanent principal at Terrace Hills Middle School as well as Collins Elementary School. The two campuses will merge to form the new Bobby Joe Hill PreK-8 School under the Bond 2016 program. Ewing has been principal at Collins since 2011 and was named interim at Terrace Hills in March.

Monica Lyons is the interim principal at Guillen Middle School. Lyons previously served as assistant principal at Irvin High School.

Story by Gustavo Reveles – EPISD

EPISD, City partner to launch El Paso Reads initiative

EPISD and the City of El Paso are forging a partnership with a unique goal in mind: to get more kids to read.

“When we talk about improving the lives of children, we need to talk about literacy. Reading is the base of learning, and we must do everything we can to help our kids tap into the instruction that will make them successful in life,” Cabrera said. “El Paso Reads will bring EPISD, the City of El Paso and other important partners into the mix in making literacy a priority for our community.”

Superintendent Juan E. Cabrera and Mayor Dee Margo this week announced the creation of El Paso Reads, a community-based initiative that creates opportunities for children to develop and enhance their love of literacy with the help of the local business and nonprofit sectors.

El Paso Reads will help create reading-friendly environments outside the traditional school setting in order to give students more opportunities to access digital books, periodicals and other reading materials in places like restaurants, rec centers and even bus stops.

Under this new partnership — which was spearheaded by Mayor Margo and the District — opportunities for students to tap into digital reading material will be created beyond the school and home environments.

That means that places like the Boys & Girls Clubs of El Paso, City of El Paso public facilities, programs of community partners like the YWCA and YMCA, and even private retailers will create spaces where children can tap into digital reading content.

EPISD is partnering with Renaissance, a national educational analytics and software company, to give students free access to the myON library of more than 6,000 digital books using computers, tablets and smartphones.  The myON function should be accessible to students in the fall.

Cabrera and Margo said they will collaborate to expand the program and improve the literacy rates in El Paso, a factor he believes will strengthen the economic outlook of the city and its residents.

“Family and community engagement are key factors contributing to children’s education. I’m committed to building a stronger community of readers with Superintendent Cabrera,” Margo said. “Together, through community collaboration, we can all make a difference in the lives of children and families in the El Paso region.”

Randi Economou, a reading advocate with Renaissance, said El Paso Reads is a unique partnership that shows a commitment to children by both EPISD and the City of El Paso.

“Superintendent Cabrera and Mayor Margo have come together to make an impact and create a culture of literacy for the children of El Paso,” she said. “We all know that literacy provides hope for a better future for children and their families.”

Story by Gustavo Reveles  |  Photos by Leonel Monroy – EPISD

Ten El Paso ISD schools named to Honor Roll

Ten El Paso Independent School District campuses were named to the 2018-19 Honor Roll by the Educational Results Partnership, a national educational nonprofit.

“EPISD continues to set the pace in academic achievement in the region,” Superintendent Juan E. Cabrera said. “Students in every corner of the District are reaching new heights in their learning, and our teachers are demonstrating that our innovative approaches to education are working.”

Cielo Vista, Hawkins, Hughey, Lamar, Mesita, Milam, Polk and Western Hills elementary schools, along with Silva Health Magnet and Transmountain Early College high schools were among the 855 public schools in Texas to be included in the Honor Roll.

Schools on the list demonstrated consistent high levels of student academic achievement, improvement in student outcomes over time and reduction in achievement gaps among student populations.

For high schools, the Honor Roll also recognized campuses with high levels of college readiness.

The Educational Results Partnership performed national research and identified common sets of learning objectives and college- and career-readiness factors among high-performing schools that include:

  • Evidence-based instruction
  • Defined college- and career-readiness practices
  • Human capital investments
  • Production and monitoring of student performance data
  • Training and resourcing of staff to help student preparation.

All recognized schools will receive a banner to display on campus, and each school will be included in an online Honor Roll database with detailed information on student performance.  The list can be viewed at www.edresults.org.

Author: Gustavo Reveles – EPISD

Video+Gallery+Story: Space exploration summer camp blasts off at Mesita

The hallways and classroom at Mesita Elementary this summer have been blasted into outer space for a couple of weeks this month to celebrate the iconic 50th anniversary of the 1969 lunar landing by the United States.

Not literally, of course. The darkened instructional spaces are part of the Interstellar Summer Camp that for two weeks will invite students to learn more about space exploration and STEM concepts — in English, Spanish and even Mandarin Chinese.

“We are exposing our students to the technology and the newest research in outer space and giving them first-firsthand accounts of what real astronauts go through in order to train for space exploration,” said teacher Anaeva Rodriguez. “We’ve created activities for them that are very similar to what the astronauts go through at NASA.”

Black lights replaced the traditional fluorescent bulbs and black paper lined hallways in the camp area. Glow in the dark space creatures, planets and recordings from NASA kept the theme going throughout the hallways.

Coordinators of the program designed flexible and unique seating, glow-in-the-dark hallways, hands-on activities and other coursework with one goal in mind: to make the enrichment camp fun. In fact, in their effort to differ the camp from the traditional school day, the organizers decided not to assign homework.

“It’s summertime, and we know that kids want to stay home and relax or do other camps. So we wanted to bring them a whole different experience that starts with how they feel when they walk into the building and in the classroom,” said Mesita Assistant Principal Marcela Duran, the camp’s coordinator. “Every student gets to do some type of hands-on experience with different topics of space exploration in three languages – English, Spanish and Mandarin.”

Students from Mesita and eight other surrounding elementary schools were invited to the two-week camp.

Fifth-grader Arnav Tonde, already a NASA camp veteran, spent part of camp researching the Oort Cloud, a spherical shell of icy objects that exist in the outermost reaches of the solar system.

“I like to the projects Mr. (Pete) Delgado gives us because we get to work in teams and I get to interact with other people,” said Arnav, who plans to be either a computer engineer a doctor — or both. “It’s pretty fun, exciting and we’re learning a lot.”

Second-grader Evelyn Villanueva already enjoys observing the nights sky, the stars and planets. So, this year’s theme definitely caught her attention.

“I’ve been learning about space and new stuff I never knew,” she said. “I’m pretty excited because I think about space and it gives me ideas to be creative.”

Her fellow second-grader Grey Boyd from Bond Elementary enjoyed the chance to explore new languages, space and much more.

“I like that we get to do projects about space and learn about new things. I also like coming because there is free lunch.”

Story by Reneé de Santos   |  Photos by Leonel Monroy   |  Video by Raymond Jackson / EPISD

UTEP to receive $1.2M Grant, will help prepare future STEM Teachers

The University of Texas at El Paso will partner with the El Paso Independent School District (EPISD) to foster the next generation of highly skilled STEM teachers through a five-year, $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

UTEP will receive support from the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program, an NSF effort that helps address the critical need for K-12 teachers of science, technology, engineering and mathematics by encouraging talented students and professionals to pursue teaching careers in elementary and secondary schools.

The effort is being led by Amy Wagler, Ph.D., associate chair in the Department of Mathematical Sciences, who is the grant’s principal investigator.

“We are grateful for this opportunity from the National Science Foundation and the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program to develop curriculum and opportunities that will prepare our students for long-term success,” Wagler said.

“Beyond that, this will also bolster our region as more than 8,500 teachers in the El Paso area are UTEP graduates. Our faculty work diligently to ensure that curriculum aligns with the careers and challenges that graduates will face in the workforce. Through this grant and our partnership with EPISD, we can strengthen pathways that will guide our students to success and prepare them for the meaningful work that they will conduct when they graduate.”

Wagler will oversee the program’s evolution with co-PIs Erika Mein, Ph.D., associate dean for undergraduate studies and educator preparation in the College of Education; Jeffrey Olimpo, Ph.D., assistant professor of biological sciences; and Nora Paugh, Ph.D., assistant professor of instruction-teacher education in the College of Education.

UTEP, along with EPISD, will establish an innovative and transformative teacher preparation program, integrating Noyce Scholars into school sites currently implementing project-based learning with support from the New Tech Network (NTN), a national, nonprofit network for comprehensive pedagogical and cultural change in public school settings.

Specifically, the partnership will establish professional development school sites where pre-service STEM teachers learn theory and practice alongside University- and school-based faculty. The intention is to innovatively prepare and graduate knowledgeable STEM teachers who understand how learning theories inform meaningful and valuable instructional practices.

The program will continually pursue several goals. The first focuses on the recruitment, certification and retention of Noyce Scholars who are STEM undergraduate majors.

Furthermore, the program will aim to design and refine coursework and field-based teaching experiences to prepare Noyce Scholars to be effective teachers.

Thirty-six Noyce Scholars are expected to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in a STEM discipline and secondary STEM teaching certification and be fully prepared to teach in high-need school districts.

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