The Graduate School of Education has been awarded a significant grant from the US Department of Education, Office of English Language Acquisition that will prepare bilingual classroom assistants for a teaching license and an ESL endorsement. The $1,960,207 five-year grant, called the Futures Project, will provide scholarships to students in the BTP program.
BTP students must be sponsored by one of the GSE’s partner school districts that support and provide field experience placements for their employees and students in the program. The coordinator for BTP and director of the Futures Grant, Dr. Esperanza De La Vega, stated:
“This grant will provide multiple benefits! The BTP program will be able to expand into a new direction of STEM. The scholarships will help our teacher candidates afford the education they need to become bilingual/bicultural teachers in their districts and communities. The school districts benefit with highly qualified bilingual teachers to hire and the linguistically and culturally diverse families/community benefit from teachers who understand their language and culture. But best of all, the K-12 student population will benefit from having teachers who can provide meaningful access to the content of science and math, as well as guidance on how to use technology in their future.”
The BTP program has been in place at PSU since 1998. In 2012 it won national recognition by earning the AACTE-Southern Poverty Law Center Award for Exemplary Culturally Responsive Teacher Preparation. This was the second national recognition the BTP program received from AACTE. In 2005, the BTP was given The Best Practice Award for promoting diversity.
One of the components of the new grant is a focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). BTP students will find ways to utilize technology in their teaching and will learn effective methods for teaching STEM subjects to limited English learners at elementary, middle and high school levels. Another new component supported by the grant will be a culminating community outreach activity led by BTP students at their student teaching sites.
Over 257 bilingual individuals have completed the program, including this year’s Middle School Principal of the Year, Victor Vergara. Currently, twelve school districts in the North Willamette Valley participate in the BTP program: Beaverton, Canby, David Douglas, Forest Grove, Gresham, Hillsboro, North Clackamas, Portland Public, Reynolds, Salem-Keizer, Tigard-Tualatin, and Woodburn.