Texas Tech University

$1.4 Million TEA Grant Continues Tuition-Free Principal Residency Program

By: Robert Stein 

The Texas Education Agency awarded the funds to a group of school districts to partner with Texas Tech's College of Education on its tuition-free principal residency program.
The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has awarded $1.4 million in grant funds to a group of school districts to partner with Texas Tech University‘s College of Education on an innovative, tuition-free principal residency program.The funds will allow schools in five independent school districts (ISDs) to develop currently employed teachers into principals through the Texas Tech Principal Fellows Program – a nationally recognized, job-embedded graduate program created by faculty in the Educational Leadership program at Texas Tech.

The funding is through Cycle 4 of TEA's 2021-2022 principal residency grant program, which provides school districts with opportunities to build strong campus leaders and help support internal leadership pipelines through full-time, yearlong principal residencies.

The five district partners are Ector County, Grand Prairie, Lubbock, Pharr-Sun Juan-Alamo and Socorro ISDs. The grant funding will help produce at least 20 principals or assistant principals.

“We are excited to continue Texas Tech University partnerships across Texas, sustain a residency principal-preparation model and – most importantly – continue growing university-to-district partnerships to produce equity-driven and diverse principal pipelines,” said Fernando Valle, associate professor of educational leadership at Texas Tech.

Selected teachers will undergo an intensive, 15-month administrator residency at their school districts, learning on the job from mentor principals and Texas Tech faculty coaches. The residency involves state-of-the-art video capture technology to review performances on-site.

During the residency, candidates complete a master's degree in educational leadership online at no cost through Texas Tech and earn a principal certification – all while continuing to earn their teaching salary.

“Our partnership with the Texas Tech University College of Education is an integral part of developing leaders in our district,” said Doyle Vogler, associate superintendent at Lubbock ISD. “The Principal Fellows Program provides our educators with a unique opportunity to pursue professional and educational advancement as they prepare to become successful school leaders for our students, families and staff in Lubbock ISD.”

 Texas Tech faculty developed the Principal Fellows Program model in partnership with the National Institute of Excellence in Teaching (NIET) and TEA, utilizing competency-based instruction to ensure graduates can promote effective teaching, deliver high-quality professional development and build communities across diverse school stakeholders such as parents and business leaders.

“It is an honor to be selected once again for the TEA-supported principal residency program and to partner with the awesome Texas Tech University College of Education,” said José Espinoza, superintendent of Socorro ISD. “I am a big believer in growing our own educators to become administrators and principals in our district. This incredible collaboration with Texas Tech allows us to give our educators an intensive, immersive and meaningful experience to develop into highly qualified and effective leaders.

“I look forward to welcoming new SISD teachers and principal mentors to the Principal Fellows Program and taking full advantage of the invaluable experiences, knowledge and training it will bring to our participants and Team SISD.”

Valle and Irma Almager, an assistant professor in the Educational Leadership program, first piloted the program in 2014 at Lubbock ISD. The program has since received funding in all four cycles of TEA's Principal Residency grant program. Last year, during Cycle 3, five districts received nearly $1.6 million to partner with the program.