$300,000 scholarship program to address ESL teacher shortage

Friday, June 25, 2004

DENTON (UNT), Texas — Carmen Montante’s father, a native of Mexico died when she was a baby. Her mother moved to the United States to find work, leaving Montante in the care of her grandfather.

“My grandfather raised me and my younger sister while my mother and two older sisters lived in the U.S.,” said Montante. “My mother worked in a sewing factory to support the family.”

After her grandfather died when she was 17, Montante faced the prospect of moving to a new country, attending a new high school and learning a new culture.

“I always enjoyed school and always wanted to be a teacher, but when I attended a high school in the U.S. it was very difficult to understand English,” she said. “And my mother only spoke Spanish.”

Montante is now a University of North Texas student majoring in elementary education. She hopes to help other English-as-a-second language students overcome the obstacles she faced by becoming a certified to teach bilingual and English as a second language. She is one of 13 UNT students currently selected for the Roberto R. Alonzo Bilingual and ESL Education Scholarship program. The scholarship is available for up to 25 students. The program, which seeks to address the Texas’ bilingual and ESL elementary teacher shortage, provides $300,000 of educational funding for junior and senior students during the next two years at the UNT Dallas campus.

The scholars selected this year for the Roberto R. Alonzo Bilingual and ESL Education Scholars program represent Dallas, Carrollton, Grand Prairie, Arlington, Cedar Hill, Lancaster, Murphy and Denton.

These scholars along with Rep. Alonzo will be honored at a reception from 5 to 6 p.m. July 1 in Room 242 on UNT’s Dallas campus. The campus is located at 8915 South Hampton Road.

State Representative Roberto Rivera Alonzo spearheaded funding for the tuition assistance through House Bill 1, General Appropriations Act.

A collaborative program between UNT and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the tuition assistance and loan forgiveness is offered to students pursuing bilingual or ESL education certification in early childhood to fourth-grade. Funds cover tuition and fees as well as a small book allowance.

To qualify, applicants must be admitted to UNT’s College of Education, maintain a 2.75 grade point average, meet the requirements for financial aid and dedicate at least three-fourths of all classes to early childhood to fourth-grade level bilingual or ESL courses. Applicants must also agree to teach full time as a certified teacher for five years at the early childhood through fourth-grade bilingual or ESL level in a public school in Texas.

For more information, or to submit an application to UNT’s Dallas campus, contact financial aid and scholarships manager Rickey Eddie at (972) 780-3630 or rleddie@unt.edu or Rudy Rodriguez, professor of Teacher Education and Administration and director of UNT’s bilingual program on the Denton campus, at (940) 565-2931 or rrodriguez@coe.unt.edu.

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108