Education Foundation Pledges more than $44,000 to grow future teachers
With some measures showing up to 60% of teachers, teach within 25 miles of the high school from which they graduated, Ector County ISD has made it a strategic priority to “grow our own teachers” from within. One of those talent pipelines is a high school program called Future Teachers of Odessa (FTO), and it received a big endorsement this morning through a $44,000 grant from the Education Foundation of Odessa. The grant will pay for dual credit courses at Odessa College and the University of Texas Permian Basin.
FTO is an expanded teaching academy partnership with OC and UTPB, intended to grow our own highly-qualified teachers from our ECISD students. Students have the opportunity to earn nine college hours their freshman year, 9 hours their sophomore year, 25 hours their junior year and 35 hours their senior year for 78 possible college hours toward a Bachelor’s degree. This is a rigorous program, yet allows students flexibility with options for entry into the program throughout their high school years. FTO is designed as a “school within a school” at Odessa High School and Permian High School. As upper level students in the program, FTO kids travel to elementary schools and work with younger students during the week. There are currently 34 students in the FTO teaching academy, and all who complete it will be given a letter of intent to hire by ECISD.
During today’s announcement, Suzette Medina, a senior at OHS told attendees why she is excited about this program. “I want to teach because you just motivate your students,” she said. “I’ve had a lot of good and bad experiences and I’d just like to give my students that good experience and that drive to do better in school.”
Likewise, Evelyn Loya, a junior at PHS who does lab hours at Zavala Elementary School wants to have a positive impact on children. “One experience and memory I have that I want to take to my classroom is when I was with my students doing my lab hours [at Zavala Elementary], and I asked how they felt today; they felt very loved and important, too. So, I want to take that to my classroom so they can feel like they belong. So, they can feel loved.”
Future Teachers of Odessa is part of ECISD’s Career & Technical Education department. Students interested in pursuing a career in teaching can contact their high school counselor to find out how to enroll in FTO courses.