The Council on Regional Economic Expansion and Educational Development (CREEED) in November presented $100,000 to EPISD to support 50 teachers interested in teaching dual-credit courses.
CREEED and EPISD leadership invited the 50 teachers and their principals for the official announcement at the Wyndham Hotel. These teachers received CREEED’s Accelerated Certification of Teachers (ACT El Paso) scholarships, which will help them complete their master’s degree programs in their subject areas and teach dual-credit courses at EPISD.
“We have more dual-credit teachers and more dual-credit offerings than any of the districts in the county,” said Superintendent Juan E. Cabrera. “With this grant, we’ll be able to add 50 more teachers. We can’t thank CREEED enough. This is truly a public-private partnership that is going to make a tremendous impact in El Paso.”
ACT El Paso is one of CREEED’s initiatives to help students attain more college credit while in high school, and ultimately receive a postsecondary education.
“This initiative aligns with our efforts to invest in teacher development, as well as our goal to set up more students for success in college,” said CREEED Chair Richard Castro. “Students who take dual-credit classes can save time towards earning their college degrees and ultimately save money, lifting that financial burden off themselves and their families.”
EPISD estimates it saved students who took dual-credit courses $5 million in tuition.
“What we’ve learned is that especially if your kids are in poverty, kids that come from struggling homes, if you get six to 12 credit hours, they have a higher chance of completing college,” Cabrera said. “Dual credit makes a financial difference, but it’s also a difference emotionally and intellectually for a student. Once they get a few college credit hours under their belt, we know they believe they can do it and then their persistence rates go way up. Their chances of completing college are much higher than if they leave high school without any credit hours.”
The ACT El Paso scholarship fund has supported 365 area teachers since 2015. Once all teachers successfully complete the credentialing process, there would be double the number of teachers and dual credit courses offered. The $100,000 awarded to EPISD supports nearly five times as many EPISD teachers as their previous grant in 2017.
Scholarship recipient Gabriela Maynes, an Irvin Rocket New Tech, is already enrolled in an online master’s program at UT Arlington. She is grateful for the opportunity CREEED is giving her and her colleagues to pursue a master’s degree and increase the dual credit offerings in EPISD.
“This is going to open doors for our students and allow our campus more opportunities to give our Northeast community,” Maynes said. “We want to promote higher education. A lot of our kids don’t think college is the next step. Having credits done in high school allows them to get degrees done quicker. It will also give them an opportunity to learn higher-level thinking at a younger age, which will open doors for them when they get out of high school.”