Focused on Creating Quality Teachers in Texas: New Funding for SPED Student Scholarships

SPED Student Scholarship

Written by: Ashley Green (cehdcomm@tamu.edu)
Post date: July 10, 2017

Quality teacher preparation is key to a successful, quality teacher in the classroom. Thanks to the Raise Your Hand Texas Foundation, the special education program in the College of Education and Human Development is getting a financial boost to continue to improve the quality of teachers in Texas.

The program was identified as an exemplar in high quality teacher preparation and was chosen as one of 10 selected as a partner in the Raising Texas Teachers program because of its “strong clinical practice and partnerships with districts.”

Over the next 10 years, the special education program, along with programs at nine other universities, will receive $50 million in scholarship funding for students committed to a career in teaching, along with technical support for the teacher preparation program.

“Our commitment has always been to educate and prepare teachers who have the potential to help level the playing field towards an education filled with promise for all the children of Texas. Because special education teachers play an important role in this commitment, we have chosen to concentrate our partnership with Raise Your Hand Texas in this area,” explained Dr. Joyce Alexander, dean of the College of Education and Human Development. “Scholarships like this will be very attractive to students and will allow us to recruit a cohort of passionate, bright Texans to answer the call to teaching.”

The goal of the Raising Texas Teachers program is to grow the pool of high-quality applicants entering the teaching profession, elevate the appeal of the teaching profession and build educators who are dedicated to working in high-needs schools and subject areas.

As part of the program, the special education program will have access to the Charles Butt Scholarship for Aspiring Teachers, which provides $8,000 annual scholarships to teacher candidates. Dr. Alexander sees this as a very important piece in the college’s mission to graduate students with as little debt as possible.

“This will be one of our largest scholarships - $8,000 a year for four years is a big commitment for students. This will give them the opportunity to not work while they are here and really concentrate on what they’re doing. Then, when they leave, they won’t be leaving with a lot of debt and they’ll be able to enjoy and concentrate on being a teacher.”

Students selected for the scholarships will have ongoing training and development opportunities, mentorship from other educators and participate in a statewide aspiring teachers network facilitated by Raise Your Hand.

“Too often, teachers are asked to learn on the job with too little formal training in the practice of teaching. We wouldn’t ask a pilot to learn on the job, nor a doctor without close supervision from an expert practitioner. The profession of teaching, and the education of our children, is no less important,” said Alison Badgett, executive director of Raise Your Hand Texas. “With Raising Texas Teachers, our goal is to support universities who are rigorously preparing students to address the needs of 21st century students, and to help them to recruit the best and brightest to the profession.”

“Many factors contribute to a student’s academic performance, including individual characteristics and family and neighborhood experiences. But, research suggests that, among school-related factors, teachers matter most,” added Dr. Alexander.

Beginning this fall, after being accepted into the special education program, students can apply for the Charles Butt Scholarship for Aspiring Teachers. A committee from the College of Education and Human Development will make recommendations to the Raise Your Hand Texas Foundation which will make the final decision. The goal for CEHD is to have at least ten students each year receive the scholarship and go on to make a difference in the lives of children across Texas.