The Department of Curriculum and Instruction, and Dr. Laura Chris Green, director of the Bilingual/ESL Education program at Texas A&M University-Commerce have been awarded a one-time appropriation of $248,127 from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
These funds were awarded after the 84th Texas Legislature passed House Bill 1 (Article III, Section 45) to ensure $2.1 million to support educator preparation programs at seven North Texas universities, including A&M-Commerce. The over-arching goal of these funds is to encourage students to pursue teacher certification in critical high needs areas such as bilingual education, English as a Second Language (ESL), or Spanish.
“We are very grateful for the leadership of Texas Representative Roberto Alonzo who sponsored Article III, Section 45 of H.B. 1,” said Dr. Green. “Most of the funds will be used to cover tuition and fees for eligible undergraduates seeking to become bilingual elementary or high school Spanish teachers for these high needs fields. The need for bilingual teachers, in particular, rises every year with the most recent data showing that 7, 218 positions remained open during the 2015-2016 school year.”
To qualify for this scholarship, A&M-Commerce students must be admitted to an EC-6 Bilingual Generalist or 8-12 Spanish teacher educator program, demonstrate financial need and maintain a cumulative 3.0 GPA. Approximately 120 A&M-Commerce students will benefit from this financial support.
Dr. Green and the Bilingual Education program have a successful history of ensuring state and federal funds to recruit, retain and graduate highly qualified bilingual teachers. She currently serves as the Principal Investigator for the ¡Profes! grant at Texas A&M University-Commerce. This is a 5-year, $1,595,495 grant funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of English Language Acquisition. Under her leadership, the project has seen 220 percent recruitment growth as part of a competitive $723,000 scholarship and fellowship program. Likewise, over 200 in-service math and science teachers and public school administrators have received training on how to better serve English Language learners.
Dr. Martha Foote, department head of Curriculum and Instruction commented, “We are extremely appreciative to Representative Alonzo and the legislature for awarding this grant to provide needed scholarships for our students pursuing bilingual teacher education. The state has a high need for more bilingual teachers and these funds will provide crucial financial support for many qualified students. Our bilingual education faculty, Dr. Green and Dr. Jackie Riley, along with Gilbert Hernández, recruiter and Profes! grant project associate director, have an excellent track record of recruitment and preparation of students who become exemplary bilingual teachers in the Northeast Texas region and beyond.”
For more information about the Roberto Alonzo Scholarship, please contact Dr. Chris Green at 903-886-5533 or [email protected].