09:36 AM

Future teachers receive scholarship funds while completing training

Ten University of Houston-Clear Lake teaching interns received scholarship funds from Success Through Education Programs (STEP), a collaborative partnership between UH-Clear Lake, four area school districts and four community colleges to create opportunities for students as they explore teaching as a profession.

"STEP programs focus on leadership, time management, study skills and other success strategies in general, as well as resume building, interview tips and first-year teaching advice," said STEP Director and Professor of Reading and Language Arts Lillian McEnery. "Students are automatically enrolled in STEP if they come to us from one of our partnering entities."

McEnery said that for most students, receiving the funds can make the difference between staying in the program or having to drop out due to financial difficulties. "The districts who partner with us have many students who need financial assistance to complete their education," she said. "The program helps students stay through the program till graduation because while they're doing their teaching internships, they're unable to work."

STEP scholarship recipient Eboni Thompson will be receiving her Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies with Core Subjects EC-6 with ESL Supplemental Certification and is currently completing her teaching internship in Galveston Independent School District. "I came to UH-Clear Lake three years ago from my job in banking and I have been living off savings all this time," she said. "I've got a lot of expenses I didn't have previously and this scholarship has definitely helped me."

Thompson said that she had been a substitute teacher prior to COVID-19 closures. She was awarded a $1500 STEP scholarship. "I have to pay monthly subscriptions to get lessons and then take the practice exams I need," she said. "I am really glad I have this financial support."

Thompson said she is starting to see the light at the end. "I see how significant it has been, taking all these courses," she said. "Everything is worth it to see those light bulbs going off."

McEnery said that scholarship amounts range from $500 to $3500 and because of the generosity of others, the STEP committee was able to award every applicant who qualified based on need and GPA with a scholarship. "One of the program's aims is for students to return to their hometown school as teachers," she said.

"Research indicates that if you can get an at-risk or first-generation student through college and have them do their internship at their home districts, they will choose to stay."

She said there is great buy-in the school districts for this, and they know they are getting great quality graduates from UHCL's program back to their community. "They're getting a really high-quality educator who knows their kids, families and culture to come back to their school district," she said.

STEP scholarships were also awarded to Mercedes Amezquita, Marisol Castillo, Sonia Gutierrez, Alyssa Hovey, Ashlye King, Rachel Moulder, Sara Patterson, Christina Thomas and Melissa Vaughn.

Learn more about STEP scholarships online.