Recruiting and preparing teachers and principals

by Karen Dooley

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) recently announced the opening of competitive grant opportunities issued for 2018–2019. These grants are for recruiting teacher candidates within districts (students and paraprofessionals) and providing avenues for future certification as well as supporting the preparation of future principals through campus-based leadership residencies.

Principal preparation

The Principal Preparation grant program was opened for application on January 12, 2018, and will close on March 13, 2018, at 5:00 p.m. This grant provides an opportunity for school districts to build strong campus leaders through principal residencies.

A total of $4,677,876 is available for approximately 120 grants expected to range from $13,000 to $130,000. The grant period is from April 13, 2018, to June 30, 2019. Local education agencies (LEAs) eligible for Title II, Part A funding may apply. Education service centers (ESCs) may apply as fiscal agents. The grant seeks to support the leadership pipeline within a school district by identifying potential leaders among existing staff. Teachers who have demonstrated instructional success and strong leadership skills would be the most likely candidates selected for the program.

Once a district identifies strong principal candidates, it will partner with a preparation program that provides training focused on best practices in campus leadership. A campus-based leadership experience with a concentrated focus on instructional leadership will be offered to the candidates throughout the residency year. The grant may be used for tuition reimbursement for teachers seeking administrative certification and for certification and testing costs for new principal exams.

Grow your own teachers

The second competitive grant opportunity available through TEA is the Grow Your Own grant program. This grant application also opened on January 12, 2018, and will close on March 13, 2018, at 5:00 p.m.

If you’re a school district wanting to increase the quality and diversity of your teaching force, this grant could be for you. The grant consists of three pathways. Pathway 1 focuses on the recruitment of current high school students who have an interest in pursuing a career in education. Teachers for this program would be required to have a master’s degree because the program includes dual credit opportunities. As a freshman, the high school student would take Principles of Education and Training, followed by Human Growth and Development taken during the student’s sophomore year. Instructional Practices would follow for the junior year and during their senior year, the student would complete the Practicum in Education and Training.

Pathway 2 targets paraprofessionals, instructional aides, and substitutes currently employed in the school district. Individuals in those jobs who have an interest in future employment as a certified teacher may benefit from this grant. The grant could be used to pay tuition stipends. Pathway 3 entails a year-long paid clinical teaching assignment for student teachers.

The grant is open to all districts with “priority points” awarded in the selection process. The smaller the district, the more priority points will be given.

The funding totals $3,043,400 for approximately 100 grants. The grant period for Pathway 1 and 2 will be April 13, 2018, through May 31, 2020. Pathway 3 will run from April 13, 2018, through June 30, 2019. Eligibility is for all LEAs. ESCs may apply as the fiscal agent for districts participating in Pathway 1 and 2. Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) may apply for Pathway 3.

Detailed information and applications can be found on the TEA Grant Opportunities website. A recorded webinar was presented on February 1 and is available for viewing. An FAQ is also scheduled to be released this month. You also can read the letter on competitive grant opportunities from the Deputy Commissioner of Educator Support here.