TWU teaching collaborative named Star Award finalist

DENTON — A Texas Woman’s University collaborative still in its early stages already has gained the attention of the state’s higher education governing board.

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has named TWU’s Teach Denton Integrated Collaborative as a finalist for the 2018 Star Award for 60x30TX, the state’s higher education strategic plan. TWU’s program is among five finalists in the partnerships category. The award will be announced during the 18th Annual Star Awards luncheon Nov. 30 in Austin.

The “Grow Your Own” program partners TWU with the Denton Independent School District’s Teach Denton program, North Central Texas College and iTeachTEXAS, an alternative teacher certification program. The collaborative works to identify talented Denton school students interested in entering the teaching profession. After graduating from the Denton Independent School District’s Education & Training Program, these students may enroll directly to TWU or start their educator preparation at NCTC for transfer to the university. Those who graduate and are certified to teach are given preferential hiring in the Denton ISD.

TWU initially partnered with the Denton ISD in 2014 to develop high quality teachers for the district. The partnership expanded in 2016 with the addition of NCTC and iTeach TEXAS. Though still in its infancy, Gina Anderson, associate dean for educator preparation and partnerships in TWU’s College of Professional Education, says the program is “already showing success, especially in recruiting diverse teacher candidates.”

Diversity is a concern both locally and nationally, Anderson said. She pointed to research that shows the student population is growing more ethnically diverse, yet four out of five teachers are white.

“Our goal is not only to train more teachers, but to train more teachers that look like our community,” Anderson said.

To date, two high school classes have graduated from the Denton ISD program. Ten high school graduates enrolled directly at TWU, and 14 have started at NCTC. Anderson noted that students in the Teach Denton pipeline primarily are seeking certification in special education, bilingual education or English as a Second Language (ESL), which the Texas Education Agency recognizes as teacher shortage areas.

The Teach Denton graduates who have entered TWU and NCTC do reflect the ethnicity of the Denton community, Anderson said, adding that the relative proportion of Hispanic students has increased more than 54 percent through this project. The overall proportion in TWU’s Educator Preparation Program is 33 percent.

“We’re excited that the early numbers reflect some real promise in recruiting diverse students,” Anderson said. “We’re also excited that the project has caught the attention of many different state entities.”

The program won the 2017 Quest for Quality Exemplary K-12 Partnerships award from the Consortium of State Organizations for Texas Teacher Education. The award highlights “what is done well at Texas universities.”

“Through this program, I believe we’re carving out a niche and showing that we’re very committed to ‘Grow Your Own’ programs,” Anderson said.

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Page last updated 11:15 AM, November 27, 2018