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UHCL Honors State Representative Ed Thompson for dedication to STEP

Written by: Lauren Sawyer
From left: UHCL Provost- Dr. Christopher Maynard, Rep. Ed Thompson of the 29th district, College of Education Dean- Dr. Joan Pedro, and UHCL President- Dr. Richard Walker.

University of Houston-Clear Lake (UHCL) recently honored the contributions of State Rep. Ed Thompson of the 29th District in the Texas House of Representatives. His efforts in securing a $1 million grant have significantly bolstered teacher education and the Success Through Education Program (STEP) at UH-Clear Lake. STEP is a collaborative partnership between UHCL, eight area school districts, and six community colleges aimed to cultivate a new generation of educators.

Partners in STEP’s collaborative initiative work together to identify first-generation, diverse, low-income students who show promised in becoming qualified teachers. STEP provides a seamless progression from high school to community college, and ultimately to UHCL, by establishing a network of support and continuous advisement for six years. Upon graduation, many students return to teach in the schools they attended as children, enriching their communities with their expertise and dedication.

During the ceremony, Thompson was recognized for his unwavering support and commitment to the university’s strategic goals and its student body. Notably Thompson played a key role in enabling the construction of the venue for the ceremony itself — UHCL at Pearland’s Health Science Classroom Building. This was made possible through House Bill 1487, which he sponsored in 2015.

UHCL President Richard Walker praised Thompson for his collaborative nature and his focus on community, students, and education. Reflecting on the recent legislative session, Walker highlighted the critical importance of teacher education in the region.

“Teacher education and preparation is very important to this region,” said Walker. “He worked hard during this last session to get us funding, and its allowed us to expand into Alvin Independent School District (ISD), Pearland ISD, Clear Creek ISD, and into Alvin Community College.”

College of Education Dean Joan Pedro leads UHCL’s STEP Program and expressed gratitude for Thompson’s devotedness and the pivotal funding he secured. The grant, according to Pedro, not only underscores Thompson’s belief in the initiative but also significantly contributes to its expansion.

“Your kindness serves as motivation and encouragement for our faculty, staff, and students who work and benefit from the STEP program,” Pedro said. “It also demonstrates your commitment to investing in our community, which leads to progress and empowering of our constituents.”

Pedro said $5,000 of the grant will go toward scholarships for 20 students at Pearland High School and Alvin Community College each year. A STEP director will also be hired to oversee and serve as the liaison for the program. Furthermore, the funding will assist in offering both high school and community college students field trips, orientations, learning and empowerment events, and scholarships for merit and participation.

The College of Education will enroll, retain, and graduate these students, making them feel comfortable and welcome."

Joan Pedro, Ph.D.
College of Education Dean Joan Pedro acknowledging Thompson's efforts and UHCL's STEP initiatives.

In closing the ceremony, Walker presented Thompson with a proclamation, celebrating his dedication and ongoing service to STEP.

“This has been my heart since I’ve been in the legislature,” said Thompson. “I believe in our public school systems and our public universities. What’s really exciting to me is the thought that STEP is not only going to elevate a student to get their degree, but what it’s going to do generationally,” he explained. “That family that didn’t have the opportunity in the past, can now have the opportunity going forward to receive a quality education, attend college, and be successful in life.”

As Thompson looks forward to retirement after 12 years of service to House District 29, he remains committed to supporting the university and its initiatives.

For more information about UHCL’s STEP program, visit www.uhcl.edu/education/centers-initiatives/step/.