An estimated 100 bilingual specialists will be trained in the next five years in three new Sam Houston State University programs with commitments of almost $2.9 million from the U. S. Department of Education.
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"Bilingual programs stop students from dropping out, help them learn faster and better, and produce more productive citizens," said Michele Hewlett-Gómez, who directs two of the three programs. "These programs improve the quality of many lives and research indicates they will pay for themselves many times over."
Hewlett-Gómez already directs a program at Sam Houston State University to train bilingual teachers, but the three new projects will reach out even further to limited English proficient students.
The new programs include:
Project COLME, a $1.5 million effort to train 35 mathematics-language teachers and 10 mathematics-language curriculum specialists. Hewlett-Gómez together with math specialists Greg Foley and Mark Klespis will co-direct the project.
- A $920,398 project to train 40 bilingual counselors, directed by Rick Bruhn with participation by Beverly Irby and Dale Pehrsson.
- Project TecBEATT, a $499,504 effort to prepare 15 in-service teachers for master's degrees in education, emphasizing technology and bilingual and English as a second language proficiencies. It is co-directed by Hewlett-Gómez and Robin McGrew-Zoubi, with Jeannine Hirtle as faculty liaison.
Each of the new projects will involve area school districts, and one will include community colleges.
Project COLME (Coalition of Language and Mathematics Education) will involve Montgomery College, North Harris College and Tomball College, and the Aldine, Humble, Huntsville, Magnolia and Spring school districts, as well as the Texas Education Agency Region VI Education Service Center.
COLME will provide academic training, field-based experiences, and professional development opportunities for pre-service and in-service teachers interested in specializing in mathematics.
"These training grants will help teachers or counselors teach limited English
proficient students within a bilingual or ESL program for two reasons--knowledge and literacy," said Hewlett-Gómez.
"Academic knowledge develops from what children bring with them in the first language, in our case Spanish. Bilingual education programs then help children to make English more comprehensible especially when they hear or read it. Literacy develops from the language the child knows then quickly transfers to the second language."
School districts working with SHSU's master's degree program in counseling include Aldine, Cypress-Fairbanks, Deer Park, Houston, Katy, Klein and Spring Branch.
Bruhn said that between 1990 and 2020 estimates indicate that 2.2 million new Hispanic residents will make them the largest ethnic group in Texas. Traditionally, Texas Hispanics have had lower achievement levels and graduation rates in the public schools than Anglos.
"With many of these families speaking only Spanish, children enter public
school with little to no English," he said. "Persons such as bilingual counselors who
can speak and understand the language and culture of these students can facilitate a better school learning environment.
"Many of the parents don't speak English," he said. "Also, it is hard to effectively counsel in a language different from the emotional language, that was used in the first five years of life. As the Hispanic populations in these schools grow, we must have counselors who can communicate with and mobilize the help of Spanish-speaking parents."
The seven school districts in Bruhn's project now have 90,000 limited English proficient students and need 34 bilingual counselors this year. His project will make only a dent in the 95 counselors expected to be needed in the districts in the next five years.
Partners in Project TecBEATT (Technology for Bilingual Educators as Teachers and Trainers) are the Huntsville, Magnolia and Willis school districts and Region VI Education Service Center. These partners will meet this rapid growth of second language learners in the smaller rural schools who need to learn to use current technology applications and English.
All three of the projects are seeking applicants, with deadlines of August 20 for the TecBEATT (technology), Sept. 3 for COLME (mathematics and language) and April 30, 2000 for the counseling project, which has already completed selection of its first "cohort" of students. Further information on each is available from the project coordinators in the Colleges of Education and Applied Science and Arts and Sciences at Sam Houston State.
Funding for the programs provide participants with scholarships covering various combinations of tuition/fees, textbooks, travel allowances, seminars, computer use, and/or monthly stipends.
In kind contributions from SHSU, two-year colleges, and participating school districts include such items as release time for personnel involved, facilities, supplies, travel, field-based experiences, and use of computers.
Of the total cost of the mathematics and language project 61per cent will be supported by federal contributions and 39 per cent in-kind. For the technology project, 71 per cent will be supported by federal contributions and 29 per cent in-kind.
Convenience for working teachers has been a key element in planning the three projects, with classes being offered at the University Center and Oak Ridge High School in The Woodlands area, and others being offered at nights, weekends, and during the summer.
Interested teachers and counselors can contact Bruhn (409-294-1132) and Hewlett-Gómez (409-294-1138) for additional information and application details.
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SHSU Media Contact: Frank Krystyniak
June 25, 1999
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