UTSA Academy for Teacher Excellence receives $4.2 million for STEM education

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Academy for Teacher Excellence seminar

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(Nov. 14, 2011) -- The Academy for Teacher Excellence (ATE) in the UTSA College of Education and Human Development was awarded $4.2 million to be distributed over the next five years. The grant from the U.S. Department of Education will be used to increase the number of culturally and linguistically diverse students who want to teach science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) at schools with diverse student populations, specifically Latinos and low-income students. The new grant brings ATE's total funding to more than $17 million since it was founded in 2003.

"In order to strengthen the trajectory of Latino and other minority students in the STEM fields, it is important to have well-prepared, culturally efficacious teachers who can engage students using transformative pedagogies," said Belinda Bustos Flores, UTSA professor of interdisciplinary learning and teaching and the study's principal investigator.

The Developing Hispanic Institutions Program Title V grant will strengthen the collaboration between UTSA and Hispanic-serving community colleges. Notably, it will help the community colleges improve their STEM instruction. It also will help community colleges align their STEM courses with UTSA's STEM curriculum to promote a smooth transition for STEM majors transferring from the two-year colleges to UTSA. The university also will use the grant to expand Latino student outreach, retention and graduation rates -- initiatives that will include ongoing face-to-face and online peer mentoring and coaching.

The ATE was established as a hub for school districts, community colleges and UTSA to collaboratively research, design, implement and evaluate educational programs that address emerging, local and statewide educational issues associated with a growing diverse student population. The Academy is a critical element of the UTSA College of Education and Human Development's teacher education programs and has helped UTSA achieve national recognition as a leader in preparing teachers to teach in culturally diverse settings.

"Over the past eight years, the Academy for Teacher Excellence has made an impact in our community by providing more than 2,000 UTSA teacher candidates and local teachers with the training they need to work with diverse student populations and promote a college-going culture," said Lorena Claeys, ATE executive director. "We are thrilled that the Department of Education has recognized our success and has awarded us a third grant from the Office of Postsecondary Education to continue our mission."

The UTSA research team includes principal and co-principal investigators Flores; Claeys; Mathematics professor Betty Travis in the UTSA College of Sciences; Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching professors Maria Arreguin-Anderson, Emily Bonner, Maria Kaylor and Timothy Yuen; Bicultural-Bilingual Studies professor Lucila Ek; and Educational Psychology Professor and Department Chair Norma Guerra.