Houston ISD awards TWU $500K to produce high-needs teachers

A TWU student steps in as a student teacher

Aug. 24, 2023 — HOUSTON — Texas has a teacher shortage, and the College of Professional Education (COPE) at Texas Woman’s University is diligently working to address it in innovative, accessible ways. This fall, TWU will team with Houston ISD to guide nearly 100 teaching assistants toward bachelor’s degrees and Texas teaching certificates through $500,000 in grants from Houston ISD aimed at producing educators from the district.
The grants, called Grow Your Own awards, will be paired with TWU’s Zero Tuition Guarantee to cover all tuition and associated costs for 95 Houston ISD teaching assistants so they can earn their degrees and certification in high-need teaching areas such as early childhood education, elementary education, special education and bilingual education.

Profile photo of COPE Dean Lisa Huffman, PhD

“These paraprofessionals can stay in their communities, for their communities, to build better communities,” said COPE Dean Lisa Huffman, PhD. “We know that effective and dedicated teachers are motivated to teach in their own home districts and this grant will help us at TWU to empower HISD teachers to do that at zero cost to candidates. This is an incredible opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of students, and we couldn't be more excited to get started.”
Houston ISD will pay the teaching assistants as full-time employees while they attend online classes at TWU. In addition to online classes, Texas Woman’s will also provide support on site at TWU’s Houston campus, which will include advising, field supervision and professional development.
“We are excited about what this means for HISD’s future teachers, and ultimately, for our students,” said Elizabel Garcia, Director of Grow Your Own and Strategic Staffing at HISD. “Thanks to our partners, we will be able to eliminate financial barriers and expand opportunities for our teaching assistants and others in the community to become teachers.”
The National Center for Grow Your Own and Houston Endowment supports this Houston ISD initiative.
“Houston Independent School District is focused on ensuring every child has not only the teacher they need, but deserve, by investing in opportunities for school-based employees to become teachers,” said David Donaldson, founder of the National Center for Grow Your Own.
Houston ISD awarded $1 million through 10 grants to three institutions out of 24 university applications. Texas Woman’s received half of all the Houston ISD Grow Your Own Grant awards.

About TWU

TWU Houston campus

Texas Woman’s, the nation’s largest woman-focused university, with campuses in Denton, Dallas and Houston, is committed to transformational learning, leadership development, service, discovery, and health and wellbeing in an inclusive environment. The university has built a reputation on its contributions in education, nursing, the healthcare professions, the arts and sciences, and business.

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Page last updated 9:29 AM, August 25, 2023