Texas A&M-San Antonio receives grant to boost bilingual, ESL educator workforce

The Department of Education awarded the $1.5 million grant

Texas A&M-San Antonio's campus (Texas A&M-San Antonio)

SAN ANTONIO – The Department of Education awarded Texas A&M University-San Antonio a four-year, $1.5 million grant to help further strengthen the state’s multilingual teacher shortage.

The university was one of 15 higher education institutions to receive the first-ever grants as part of the Augustus F. Hawkins Centers of Excellence program.

What will the grant support?

Funds from the grant will support scholarships and resources to boost the number of multilingual teachers in communities and schools with a highly diverse student population.

A&M-San Antonio will apply the grant to its College of Education and Human Development to focus efforts on recruiting, training, and retaining bilingual and ESL educators.

Several certificates will be enabled thanks to the grant, including scholarships for 60 students pursuing a degree in bilingual education.

“This particular grant will help increase the multilingual teacher pipeline,” said Dr. Esther Garza, associate professor and chair of the university’s Department of Educator and Leadership Preparation program in the College of Education and Human Development. “It will help us support students who are pursuing bilingual education and ESL education in terms of scholarships, and it will also help with their certification costs.”

Data from the Learning Policy Institute — a nonprofit that conducts research to improve education policy and practice in the U.S. — suggests Texas “has had a teacher shortage driven by high attrition rates for decades,” a study found.

A&M-San Antonio’s plans

To begin to address the shortage, the university is developing a pipeline with students at the middle, high school and community college levels.

These efforts will focus on existing partnerships the university has within the community — specifically, the Edgewood, Harlandale and Southwest school districts.

The partnership also includes the Alamo Colleges.

“This collaborative effort of our bilingual program faculty, led by Dr. Garza, will address the critical shortage of teachers in the critical area of bilingual and multilingual education,” Dr. Amy Lewis, interim dean for the College of Education and Human Development, said.

As A&M-San Antonio begins to foster a new generation of multilingual educators, Garza hopes the university may become a model for development, training and retention.

“Our hope is to become a hub for multilingual teacher preparation, development, growth, and professionalism,” Garza said. “Our hope is that other institutions will replicate our model.”

Also on KSAT:

About the Author:

Mason Hickok is a digital producer trainee at KSAT. He graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a communication degree and a minor in film studies. He also spent two years working at The Paisano, the independent student newspaper at UTSA. Outside of the newsroom, he enjoys the outdoors, walking his dogs and listening to podcasts.