Quitman ISD receives grant to ‘grow its own’ quality teachers

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Through a Texas Education Agency grant program, Quitman ISD was awarded $49,000 to fund district employees’ teacher certification degrees, dual-credit classes, training and pathways for future educators.

TEA’s Grow Your Own teachers grant is meant to elevate the teaching profession in Texas using high quality education and training in high school.

School districts can use the 2019-21 grants to encourage students to pursue teaching careers, and district employees can obtain certifications.

Bethany Fatheree, a Quitman Elementary paraprofessional, received $10,000 in grant funding to complete her teaching degree.

Corey Hammond (agricultural sciences), Austin Hagy (physical education/coach) and Jesus Ramirez (social studies/coach) each received $5,000 to complete their degrees.

“This is an amazing opportunity for our district, our employees, and our students. I am so proud of the work that went into making this grant happen, and I expect a great return on the investment,” QISD Superintendent Rhonda Turner said.

The remaining $24,000 will go toward encouraging Quitman students to become teachers through dual-credit classes, training and a student organization for future teachers called the Texas Association of Future Educators (TAFE).

TAFE is a statewide student organization that helps young people explore and achieve teaching careers.

Amy Park, an instructional technology and digital media center specialist, wrote the grant application for QISD. The grant’s purpose is to increase the amount of qualified diverse candidates in the teaching field, especially in small rural schools, she said.

“The district benefits from the increase in the number of potential teacher candidates to fill future positions, and the students benefit from an added career pathway to pursue, which will hopefully lead them back to where they received their own education,” said Park. “I am excited to be a part of this program, giving back to my alma mater and hopefully impacting our students to make a return on the investment QISD has made on them. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.”   

QHS Principal Dana Hamrick shared her excitement about the school district receiving these funds to help bring great teachers to Quitman.

“I am thrilled that Quitman ISD has been afforded the opportunity to participate in this program. With the shortage of teachers across Texas, I believe the ability to ‘Grow Your Own’ teachers, both from non-traditional and alternative certification programs and from our own high school students who pursue the education and training pathway will positively impact our community in countless ways,” Hamrick said.

Hamrick, Park and Brittany Eldred will learn more about the grant and specific training related to it this summer in Austin.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing how this program grows here in Quitman, and to the possibility of seeing more and more Quitman folks teaching in Quitman schools,” Hamrick added.

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