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Local program leads high school students towards teaching career

Posted at 12:15 PM, Aug 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-30 22:19:45-04

BRYAN, Texas — Valerie Hill-Jackson is the BVTeach Principal Investigator and Co-Executive Director.

"Brazos Valley Teach Program is a grow-your-own program and it is considered a long-term strategy for the teaching shortage," said Hill-Jackson.

Making the transition from high school to college and navigating how to be a teacher can be tricky. BVTeach serves as a roadmap for students and their families.

Not only do they get hands-on experience, but Dr. Hill-Jackson also said they can save money by enrolling in dual-credit courses.

“If you get those courses, those education and training courses, out of the way, as well as support courses, there is a possibility to shave an entire year off of your degree for becoming a teacher,” said Dr. Hill-Jackson.

One Bryan High School Senior is currently in the program, and said she has benefited a lot from participating in Brazos Valley Teach, especially when interacting with students from schools across the area.

"It’s been a really good experience getting to know them, learn their background, and just getting along with them," said Mackenzie Ruiz, a BVTeach Fellow.

As someone who is wrapping up their time in the program this year, Ruiz also said for those interested in joining it or similar programs to have an open mind.

“If they get the opportunity to do something like the program, I would definitely recommend it, so it can give them some type of knowledge of what they will be getting into and to just have patience, especially with the little ones,” Ruiz said.

Her teacher, Maria Besa has been in the education profession for over 40 years. She advises first-year teachers to treat the students as if they were their own children.

Although there is currently a teacher crisis, her passion for her students is why continues returning to the classroom year after year.

“The reason I started teaching was because I love working with the students, I come back every year for my students,” Besa said.

Support doesn’t stop for these high school students once they graduate either. Besa said they will continue to be mentored throughout the process, giving them a bit of a head start.

“The greatest thing is that they’re going to be at home," Besa said. "They’ll attend Blinn College first and then they’re going turn around and go to A&M University, so they’re still here in the Bryan area, they’re close to home. Because a lot of our students cannot afford to go somewhere else for school."

Dr. Hill-Jackson agrees, according to her the research shows that 60 percent of teachers are returning home. So, she says if we want teachers to remain in our community, we need to look within it.

For high school students wanting to learn more about the Brazos Valley Teach Program, you can visit their website. For those interested in the AggieTERM Graduate Program they also have information on their website.

Both of these local educational opportunities are ways for students to explore the teaching field more in-depth, develop their skills, and earn credentials for post-secondary careers.