BISD teachers to pursue master’s courses under TEA grant

The Brownsville Independent School District is one of seven recipients statewide of a $465,000 grant from the Texas Education Agency that will cover tuition and fees for 25 pre-approved teachers to earn master’s degrees in nine high-need subjects and qualify to teach dual-credit courses at BISD early college high schools.

Merrill Hammons of BISD’s College, Career and Military Readiness Department, and Greg Garcia of the Grants Department noted that BISD has an immediate need for high school teachers with master’s degrees in art, biology, economics, English, history, government, math, music appreciation and psychology.

These courses provide the basic dual-credit college coursework that help high school students gain hours toward an associate of arts degree in BISD’s dual-credit programs, Garcia said. Teachers interested in being part of the high-needs master’s cohort submitted a TEA educator’s commitment form prior to grant submission, he said.

The grant will allow three teachers to complete their master’s degree, while another 11 will be able to pursue a full master’s in the high-needs subjects, Garcia said. Another 12 teachers who already have their master’s will be able to take six graduate courses to attain the required 18-hour concentration and teach dual-credit courses in a second subject.

BISD’s goal is to increase both the number and variety of dual-credit college courses leading to an associate’s degree at all of the district’s high schools, Garcia stated.

“We expect a few BISD teachers to start taking graduate classes during the second summer session, while the majority will start in the fall 2021 semester,” he said.

Emilio Barrientos, a science teacher at Rivera Early College High School, said the grant allows opportunities for teachers to grow and open doors not available with a bachelor’s degree. He said the grant funds would allow him to take three graduate-level courses, allowing him to teach dual enrollment classes by summer 2022.

Santa Estrella, a physical education and dance instructor at Brownsville Early College High School, explained, “I’m excited to take advantage of this TEA grant in Summer Session 2 and the fall. It will allow me to be eligible to teach dual-enrollment psychology by spring 2022.”

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