Thanks to a TWU program in Teacher Education, teachers in north Texas rural and small schools will receive training in methods for teaching in classrooms where an increasing number of students are learning English as they study their subjects. TWU alumnae, Karen Crooks, 2008, B. S. Education and Janae Terry, 1999, B. S. Communication are members of the first cohort of teachers to participate in SMARTTTEL (Science and Mathematics for ALL: Rural Teacher Training through Technology for English Learners), a program was developed by Associate Professor, Dr. Holly Hansen-Thomas.
TWU Associate professor, Dr. Holly Hansen-Thomas describes SMARTTTEL as a collaborative professional development program between TWU, 14 school districts in north Texas and the Education Service Center of Region XI. The project is sponsored by the Office of English Language Acquisition and the U. S. Department of Education. Dr. Hansen-Thomas whose specialty is English as a Second Language, realized that teachers in rural and small schools were facing increasing student diversity in their class rooms just as teachers in urban schools were. However, few professional development programs were available to assist those in rural communities. Schools that are partners with SMARTTTEL to date are Aubrey ISD, Decatur ISD, Godley ISD, Krum ISD, Little Elm ISD, Millsap ISD, Pilot Point ISD, Poolville ISD, Rio Vista ISD, Texas Education Centers, Tolar ISD and Valley View ISD. Learn more about the SMARTTTEL program and its services at the official website.
Karen Crooks has had a positive experience with SMARTTTEL in its inaugural year. “It is teaching me how to better understand the needs and background of English Language Learning students, the best strategies to use, and even more about the second language acquisition process. The knowledge I am gaining will allow me to impact the students so that they can become more successful in science and math.”
TWU alumna, Janae Terry, feels honored to be a part of the first SMARTTTEL cohort. “From this program I have gained a better understanding of diversity in education. As teachers we need to be aware of the changing society in which we live and seek to educate ourselves in the strategies needed to teach in such diversity.” She notes, “I will not only be able to share what I have learned from the SMARTTTEL program with teachers from my school but also incorporate these strategies in my daily instruction and interactions with my students.”
As she visited the schools, Dr. Hansen-Thomas recognized an additional benefit of the program. “Not only is it filling an important need — that of better preparing rural and small school district teachers to meet the needs of their English Language Learners — but also of promoting TWU in the wider community.” When she visits the schools she sees the teachers wearing TWU shirts and promoting the university to students. “I think our effect is far reaching and beneficial!”