June 2, 2023
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Good teachers, the backbone of the Texas education system, are becoming increasingly rare.

“Statewide, there’s a lack of qualified teachers, and new teachers who come to Muleshoe don’t often stick very long,” said Suzanne King, site coordinator for the Grow Your Own Graduate teacher candidate program.

During the 2019-2020 school year, Muleshoe and Springlake-Earth ISD applied for and received a grant to implement the program. Recent candidates who graduated from the program are Vanessa Ramirez, Brian Mahler and Griselda Segura. Mahler is from Springlake-Earth ISD, while Ramirez and Segura work for Muleshoe ISD.

Current Grow Your Own candidates are Anghy Avilez and Victoria Garza. Shyanne Crawford was Muleshoe’s first TTU Grow Your Own graduate.

Previously funded through TEA, Grow Your Own is now funded by the Brown Foundation, a Texas Tech partner.

Current program candidates work as MISD teacher’s aides. They receive a stipend through the Brown Foundation to help cover their tuition, and since they continue to work as teacher’s aides, they receive their regular salary.

“All of them are working toward their bachelor’s degree and certification in grades pre-K through 6 from Texas Tech University,” King said.

Future teachers in the program receive their associate’s degree in education before being accepted to Tech. As site coordinator, King is their supervisor.

“They start classes at TTU in July and graduate the following July,” she said. “We’re very upfront about the challenges. It’s a rigorous, fast-paced program, but in a year they’re certified to teach. They go from receiving an aide’s salary to receiving a teacher’s salary. It’s really your fastest route, and there’s also a financial incentive.”

In addition to the degree candidates, MHS juniors and seniors can work toward becoming teachers. Through Family and Community Services (FCS) classes, Valerie McCamish offers Principles of Education in Training, Child Development, Instructional Practices, and Practicum of Education.

“Practicum is offered as a dual credit class through South Plains.” King said. “Students interested in going straight from high school to an associate’s degree with South Plains College can get those credits out of the way, as well as regular courses, such as math. We work pretty hard with South Plains in order to get those courses for them.”

Candidates accepted to the program commit to three years of teaching at Muleshoe ISD.

“Especially in a small town, we believe we’re going to keep people who are from here a lot longer than those who don’t have ties to the community,” King said. “It takes a lot of determination and hard work. I’m so proud of them.”

Gail M. Williams

Muleshoe Journal Correspondent


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