AUSTIN (KXAN) — With a partnership between Austin Community College and Texas Tech University, students can be teaching their own classroom within three years.
The program, which is currently only available at the ACC Highland Campus, is designed to help ACC graduates with an Associate of Arts in Teaching advance from an associate to a bachelor’s degree in a single year while earning a teacher certification.
Students will spend two years at ACC Highland earning their associate’s degree and then their third year will be a high-intensity track of online courses with Texas Tech University through the school’s Tech Teach Across Texas program.
The final year also includes hands-on experience in Austin Independent School District schools.
The partnership allows future educators to stay in Central Texas while shaving off a year of education, tuition and fees.
The program makes a big difference for students like Maria Saucedo, who says she couldn’t afford to become a teacher.
“It means a lot to me because since I am under the DACA, I don’t get a lot of financial aid, which meant each semester I wouldn’t be able to afford as many classes, so I was already a little behind,” says Saucedo, who will complete her associate degree at ACC this summer and immediately head into this new program with Texas Tech after.
“So finding this program that was gonna get me back on track, was just amazing and I didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity,” she said. Saucedo is from the Elgin area and was glad that this program will allow her to stay in Central Texas where she hopes to eventually teach.
“We need to be where the students are, and so when we have a chance to partner with somebody like ACC, that really is just another pathway for students to get a Texas Tech degree, to get a college degree staying where they are,” said Texas Tech University President Lawrence Schovanec. “And it’s particularly meaningful to non-traditional students who may be constrained by family situations and other issues that don’t allow them to travel to Lubbock.”
In Texas, the annual turnover rate for teachers is 16 percent. The Texas Education Agency is working on ways to recruit, prepare and retain teachers.