EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – The University of Texas at El Paso’s College of Education recently received two grants from the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) totaling more than $4.3 million.

The first grant will establish a center that will recruit and prepare individuals to enter the teaching profession. A second grant will fund an initiative to increase the number of K-12 teachers who are qualified to work more effectively with English learners.

“This work is vital because UTEP produces 70 percent of the teachers in local schools,” said Clifton Tanabe, Ph.D., J.D., dean of the College of Education. “This support from the Department of Education will enable UTEP to accelerate and elevate the transformational teacher preparation work we are pursuing here in El Paso.”

The Augustus F. Hawkins Center

A grant of more than $1.5 million from the DOE will establish the Augustus F. Hawkins Center of Excellence in Hispanic Teacher Preparation (CEHTP) at UTEP. This is part of an $18 million initiative announced this week by the DOE.

At UTEP, the project will implement a research-based, competency-driven curriculum to target education students who are currently pursuing their bachelor’s degree as well as those who already have a degree and are now interested in obtaining the certifications needed to become a teacher.

The project also seeks to bolster the availability of bilingual teachers in the Borderland region.

Anticipated objectives include increasing enrollment of prospective teachers into UTEP’s undergraduate teacher preparation program and into high-needs certification areas. This will be done by implementing strategic recruitment efforts with high school Education and Training programs and among school support staff, including instructional aides, who want to be certified to teach.

UTEP will work with seven regional school districts to execute the project’s objectives: Canutillo ISD, Clint ISD, El Paso ISD, Fabens ISD, Socorro ISD, Tornillo ISD and Ysleta ISD.

Learning, Encouraging, and Planning to Uplift Performance

The second DOE grant, worth more than $2.8 million, will support an initiative called Learning, Encouraging, and Planning to Uplift Performance (LEAP UP).

LEAP UP will seek to recruit current teachers to pursue the Bilingual Education/Dual Language or ESL Graduate Certificates and, ultimately, gain the skills and knowledge necessary to teach more effectively in dual language, bilingual education and English as a Second Language (ESL) K-12 classroom settings.

UTEP researchers will collaborate with multiple partners in the Borderland region’s PK-12 education ecosystem including the Texas State Education Agency, the Texas Association for Bilingual Education, the Center for Applied Linguistics, Head Start and Early Head Start El Paso, Education Service Center Region 19, as well as the Canutillo, El Paso and Ysleta independent school districts.