The El Paso Community Foundation and Council on Regional Economic Expansion and Educational Development (CREEED) today announced the receipt of a $1.3 million grant to dramatically improve teacher training, recruitment and retention in the El Paso region.
The new EPCF/CREEED partnership is backed by a $1,362,000 grant from the Prentice Farrar Brown & Alline Ford Brown Foundation, Bank of America, N.A. Trustee. It will be managed by EPCF and CREEED, which will work with the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) and the Canutillo, El Paso, Fabens, Tornillo, Socorro, and Ysleta school districts over the next year.
It provides funding for a variety of initiatives focusing on teacher recruitment, training and support. The funding also will support an effort to identify and recruit future teachers in grades K-12. It also will expand a year-old residency program for aspiring teachers.
EPCF and CREEED will work closely with local institutions to reimagine how to best prepare and support teachers so they are well-positioned to deliver high-quality education to students today and beyond.
“Our goal is to see that 100% of teachers hired in the El Paso region come from sustainable, high-quality teacher training programs,” said Amy O’Rourke, director of CREEED’s Choose to Excel program. “As one of the few organizations in the region focused solely on educational attainment, CREEED has long recognized what a difference highly effective teachers can make. That is why it is one of the four strategic areas we are investing in as we push to see 60% percent of the region’s young people hold a higher education degree by 2030.”
“The COVID-related shutdown has confirmed what many of us already knew — it takes a unique and committed person to become a teacher,” said Stephanie Otero, vice president of operations at EPCF. “If we can find those individuals and support them as they enter the profession, we will see student attainment, school performance, and teacher retention all rise.”
The grant will help UTEP, CREEED, EPCF and Workforce Solutions Borderplex expand UTEP’s Miner Teacher Residency Program, which launched in 2019 in partnership with US Prep and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The program places aspiring teachers, who are paid a stipend, in classrooms with experienced teachers for a full school year. The funding will support up to 35 teacher residents in the El Paso and Socorro districts, and help the program expand to the Ysleta district with up to 15 residents. Additionally, it will support the development of strategic staffing models so the residency program can be sustainable long term, improving the teacher pipeline for years to come.
“The residency works much like a medical residency, offering teacher candidates hands-on training in the classroom as well as the opportunities to receive immediate feedback and to participate in special seminars that unpack the challenges and solutions that arise over a school year,” said Clifton Tanabe, Ph.D., dean of UTEP’s College of Education. “Our transformation goal was to ground our teacher preparation programs on robust, practice-based, on-site coaching models. We have been aggressively working to scale this work to be able to place all teacher candidates in a residency program at one of the region’s twelve local independent school districts. We need sustained, substantive, and committed partnerships to do the real work, and this is what this grant and this partnership is all about.”
UTEP and the New Teacher Center are collaborating to develop a best-in-class model to coach teachers who entered the profession within the last three years. It pairs them with experienced instructional coaches. The pilot for this mentorship program will work with up to 60 teachers in the Canutillo, Fabens, and Tornillo school districts. The grant supports the creation of the Prentice Farrar Brown & Alline Ford Brown Fellow, who will direct the pilot program and oversee three instructional coaches directly supporting teachers and building instructional coaching capacity within the partnering districts to ensure sustainability for the model.