Paraprofessionals, instructional aides, and long-term substitutes have a path to become a classroom teacher through a grant in Del Valle ISD. Now in its second year at DVISD, the Grow Your Own (GYO) grant program, supported by TEA and ESC Region 13, provides districts a pipeline for staff members to obtain teacher certification.

The program “aims to elevate the teaching profession in Texas by developing high-quality education and training courses and by creating grant-funded teacher pipelines to increase the pool and diversity of Texas’ future classroom leaders.” It also focuses on recruiting and retaining teacher candidates in hard-to-staff areas.
Non-teaching staff members with a minimum of 75 college credits toward a Bachelor’s degree are eligible to apply for the program. Candidates accepted into the program receive guidance through finishing their degree while remaining employed at DVISD. Once certified, participating teachers continue to receive support as they begin their teaching career.

The grant helped Noemi Castro, who is in her second year of teaching 2nd grade Bilingual at Hornsby-Dunlap Elementary, fulfill her dream of becoming a teacher. Castro was formerly a Human Resources Specialist at the district office.

“The first and second years of teaching can be a challenge, but with the amazing district and campus faculty and staff’s guidance, I feel better able to overcome the challenges to better serve my students,” Castro said, “I have come to realize that if you take one day at a time, inhale and exhale, seek guidance when needed, and have confidence in your abilities then you will rise up and succeed.”

The district re-applied for the new GYO grant cycle, specific to currently degreed-individuals, which would be awarded in January 2021.

Teacher standing at lectern working with class on laptop Teacher observing students sitting at desks in classroom