Texas State University’s teacher education program was recently selected as a Raising Texas Teachers partner, a 10-year, $50 million statewide teacher workforce initiative supported by the Charles Butt Foundation. Daily Record file photo by Gerald Castillo
Texas State teacher education program selected as Raising Texas Teachers partner
Texas State University’s teacher education program was recently selected as a Raising Texas Teachers partner, a 10-year, $50 million statewide teacher workforce initiative supported by the Charles Butt Foundation.
Texas State joins 15 universities currently participating in partner teacher programs across the state.
“This recognition speaks to our university’s historic roots as a teacher’s college up to our role today in graduating more teachers fully prepared for the classroom than any other university in Texas,” said Michael O’Malley, dean of the College of Education at Texas State. “Working with the Charles Butt Foundation has been a transformative partnership for our teacher education program that benefits not only our students, but the children they will educate throughout their careers.”
The Raising Texas Teachers program was launched in 2017 by the foundation, which was started by Charles Butt, chairman and majority stakeholder of H-E-B, a chain of more than 420 grocery stores across Texas and in Mexico. The foundation’s vision for the initiative is that every student, in every classroom across Texas has an effective teacher every year.
To be selected as a project partner, Texas State successfully participated in a competitive request for proposal process to identify the best university-based teacher preparation programs in Texas that could recommend teacher candidates for the Charles Butt Scholarship for Aspiring Teachers and work collaboratively to address persistent challenges in teacher preparation.
Texas State teacher candidates may apply for the Charles Butt Scholarship, an $8,000 per year scholarship to help cover the cost of attending Texas State for up to four years. The scholarships are criteria-driven and there is no limit to the number of eligible Texas State students who can be awarded. Criteria include commitment to a teaching career in Texas public education in a Title I school or a critical shortage area (defined by the foundation as math, science, special education or bilingual education) and to completing the EC-6 ESL undergraduate teacher residency program.
In addition to financial support, the scholarship provides mentorship, professional development and participation in a statewide network of promising teacher candidates who are committed to teaching in the Texas public school system in either a majority-economically disadvantaged school (more than 50% of students are eligible for free or reduced lunch) or in a shortage subject area.
Prior to the becoming a Raising Texas Teachers partner, Texas State had worked with the Charles Butt Foundation’s evaluation and improvement process since 2018, leading the university to work with US PREP to design and implement innovative year-long teacher residencies programs designed to improve outcomes for students and student teachers alike. This has been a faculty-wide effort. Lori Assaf, professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, is the coordinator of the partnership along with Jeff King, senior lecturer in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.
“The faculty in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction has spent the past three years collaboratively working to improve our program with the ultimate goal of better preparing our teacher candidates to be more culturally and linguistically responsive and serve the needs of all students,” Assaf said. “We are committed to engaging in continuous improvement.”
Students receiving the Charles Butt Scholarship will participate in Texas State’s teacher residency program, which provides stability and support for student teachers.
“The residency is different from the standard pathway taken by education students because it provides the continuity of being in the same classroom for the entire school year,” O’Malley said. “Placement in the same classroom for field work and student teaching allows for a deeper immersion into the culture of the classroom community and the formation of stronger, more supportive relationships with cooperating teachers, school leaders, students and their families.”
The teacher residents receive a welcome stipend to help support living expenses. Student teaching semesters require the teacher residents to spend five days a week from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in their placement classrooms and this doesn’t include the extra planning and preparation time that they put in daily. Most students have to quit jobs or try to find only weekend hours in order to complete student teaching. These stipends currently range from $8,000 to $20,000 per year, and they allow residents to focus more fully on their teacher preparation at their K-12 school.
“The residency program has given me the opportunity to make connections and form relationships with my students, my cooperating teacher and other members of my school’s community,” said Angie Escalante, a 2022-2023 resident at De Zavala Elementary in San Marcos CISD. “It’s been an amazing experience that has given me the confidence needed to start my first-year teaching on a strong note. I feel that every preservice teacher would benefit from this program.”
Students in the residency work in kindergarten through fifth grade classrooms in the Lockhart, San Marcos, Hutto, Manor and Prairie Lea ISDs along with Ki Charter School while taking their coursework in curriculum and pedagogy. Texas State is collaborating with Austin ISD to add a residency in that district as well.
Texas State piloted its first teacher residency with Lockhart ISD starting in 2020, and to date has placed more than 75 teacher residents with partner districts. For the fall 2022 semester alone, 59 teacher candidates have taught in four local districts and charter schools, with another 20 students already placed for the spring 2023 semester.
Texas State has secured state funding for up to $3 million in stipends over three years for teacher residents. Residency stipends are in addition to the Charles Butt Scholarships.
Texas State College of Education students can learn more about the Charles Butt Scholarship by emailing CBScholars@txstate.edu.
Information provided by Texas State University