Having been invited to submit an application for the UTeach program aimed at preparing future math and science teachers, University of Texas Permian Basin hopes to have its first group of students by 2022.
Dean of the College of Education Larry Daniel said UTPB plans to put in its application in early January.
“If indeed we are accepted and funded, we’re anticipating starting the planning right away and we would have our first cohort of students. The plan would be to have them for fall of ’22. So the ’21-22 academic year would be our planning year, and then fall of ’22, we will have recruited the first group of students to come through,” Daniel said.
He said they hope to have as many as 30 students the first semester and an additional 20 in the spring semester.
“It would be ideally around 50 that first year,” Daniel said.
UTPB also offers OC2UTPB, an accelerated teacher training program, and US PREP.
US PREP was launched in 2015 with six university-school partners. In 2017, two new partners were added, spanning across Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee and Texas. It now will launch a second cohort of eight universities concentrated in New York, Texas, and California, targeting educator talent pipelines for some of the biggest school districts in the U.S., including the New York City public school system, its website said.
Daniel said the design of the UTeach program is to get students who may not have decided to become teachers yet.
“… But … the design of the program is to offer courses tuition free to them that are high-interest and focused on some experience working with children for people to get used to the idea” that they can do this, Daniel said.
He added that the program also provides other supports and mentoring so they can be successful as they enter the teaching programs.
“All these things we’re doing are not necessarily cross-purposed, but we do hope that there are some cross over students participating in more than one of them,” Daniel said.
Daniel said UTPB is not jumping on every bandwagon in terms of teaching programs.
“… We’re finding things that support what our faculty and the university’s mission have already led us to be thinking about. We happen to have very interested partners that have provided us opportunity and the other thing is funding. It does take extra resources to do new programs and we’ve been able to find opportunities through these external partners that allow us to have more resources to attract and really prepare excellent teachers,” he said.
The funding for UTeach will come through UT Austin. It’s $1.4 million over five years.
“… However, they have negotiated with some of our local funders through the PSP (Permian Strategic Partnership) organization … so the funding’s actually going from the PSP funders to UT Austin and we’re basically getting that back to the community again through UT Austin,” Daniel said.
“The funding stream makes sense because they’re putting the funding into an organization that runs the program, knows the program (and) has a reputation for doing this. We’re going through the process correctly, filing an application as any institution who participates in UTeach would need to do,” Daniel said.
Daniel said assuming UTPB gets the grant award for UTeach they will immediately start getting the word out to students.
“… The folks at PSP reached out to us and they reached out to UT Austin roughly at the same time expressing their interest in bringing UTeach to the Permian Basin, so I know we have support of business leaders. We’re getting letters of support from the school districts to include with our application when we send it in next month. I do think the important people out in the public, our school district, partners and business leaders definitely are high on this program,” Daniel said.
UTeach started in the 90s so it has been around a couple of decades.
“They’ve proven themselves,” Daniel said. “There’s been thousands of teachers that have come through that program and been successful in the sites all around the country. It’s a program that’s tried and true, that has a fabulous reputation by one of our lead universities here in the state at UT, so certainly I think it’s going to hit the scene fairly loudly and people will like it.”
Daniel said UTPB has two science educators here who are co-writing the proposal and will probably be leading the project.
Daniel said more people will be needed as the program is built.
UTPB will get five years of support for UTeach and the grant application will include some of the positions they will need. The grant is expected to be $1.4 million over five years going up incrementally as it gets fully implemented.
They will be looking to fund UTeach beyond the five years.
With all the teachers coming out of the teacher preparation programs, Daniel said there will be districts that still need teachers.
“… I think everybody we graduate right now, if they’re successful in the program and they want a job, one of our districts locally will be happy to have them. I don’t foresee any time in the future that we’re going to exhaust the need, but we are interested in … increasing that line of qualified educators,” Daniel said.
He added that UTPB has received incredible cooperation from Odessa College and Ector and Midland independent school districts.
Ruth Campbell covers education for the Odessa American. Reach her at 432-333-7765 or firstname.lastname@example.org