Universities, school district receive federal grant to address teacher shortage
The Texas Center for Educational Technology in the University of North Texas' College of Education is one of the recipients of a grant from the U.S. Department of Education to recruit future teachers for high-need areas.
UNT is expected to receive about $1.3 million over three years for the project, called the Beginning Educators Gain Instructional Nurturance (BEGIN) project. The remaining funds in the $3 million grant will go to the other participating institutions: Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls; Vernon College near the Red River in north Texas; North Central Texas College in Bowie; Wichita Falls Independent School District; and Region 9 Education Service Center in Wichita Falls, which supports K-12 activities.
The grant will allow the Texas Center for Educational Technology to provide financial support for UNT students preparing to teach subjects in need of more highly qualified instructors in high-need schools -- those in which at least 40 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced lunch subsidies.
The center "will concentrate on using technology to disseminate the unique features of the project throughout the state of Texas and beyond," said Dr. Jim Poirot, the center's executive director and a Regents Professor of educational psychology at UNT.
Beginning in January, the grant will help fund scholarships for 175 prospective teachers to attend UNT, Midwestern State University, Vernon College or North Central Texas College. Each student will receive up to $2,500 a year for up to three years of full-time study. Students must commit to teaching science, mathematics or foreign language in a high-need school.
The grant will also help pay for technology tools, such as PDAs or laptops to help students with their studies. In addition, the grant will fund staffing and development for the program.
The project will target students entering community colleges and students entering university teacher education programs. To qualify, students must be full-time college students seeking teacher certification at one of the participating institutions. Students must also participate in a summer institute related to teaching.
Dr. Martha Peet, director of the Texas Center for Educational Technology, said the BEGIN project will particularly help to provide highly qualified teachers for schools in the Wichita Falls area and surrounding rural areas.
"People who grew up in the area will have the chance to stay in the community and really make a difference," she said.