AC grads complete Texas Tech’s 1-year teacher ed. program in AISD schools


By Joe Wyatt

Kamrynn Striley’s first-ever visit to the campus of Texas Tech University will occur on Aug. 7, when she travels to Lubbock to walk across the commencement stage. However, it’s not the only ‘first’ on Striley’s budding resume.

She also is among the first group of Amarillo College (AC) graduates to complete TechTeach Across Texas, Texas Tech’s rigorous “grow your own” teacher education program that allows community college graduates to complete a bachelor’s degree and earn teacher certification in one calendar year.

TechTeach, which is making inroads across the state, is a three-pronged partnership in Amarillo between Texas Tech, AC and the Amarillo Independent School District (AISD).

As a result of her successful participation in TechTeach, Striley, a 2018 graduate of Amarillo High School, will be a first-year kindergarten teacher this fall at AISD’s Glenwood Elementary School.

“It’s so exciting,” said Striley, who turned 21 in June. “I attended Amarillo schools all my life and now I’m going to teach in them – I’ve literally come full circle. This program was so totally worth it. I got what is essentially a two-year bachelor’s degree in one year of really intensive student teaching.

“It was a busy, busy year, but it was an easy trade-off to make. Eight of us who graduated from Amarillo College only last year will graduate from Texas Tech on Aug. 7, and I can’t wait. To this day, I’ve never been on the Tech campus.”

Texas Tech identifies TechTeach as “2+1” program – referencing two years of community college and one year of university study. Candidates are not only immersed in a rigorous online curriculum, but they simultaneously spend a full school year student teaching in partnering school district classrooms.

“It’s crazy-intense, but it produces quality teachers, and we’ve hired every single one of the first cohort of AC graduates who completed this bachelor’s program through Texas Tech,” said Chris Tatum, chief human resources officer for AISD. “We’ve found that students on the education track at Amarillo College have been trained rigorously and are fully prepared to jump to the next level.

“Then, Texas Tech really makes them put their noses to the grindstone – pretty much from August to August – but they emerge with enthusiasm, truly ready to teach. We’re excited because we have 18 candidates in the next cohort.”

TechTeach candidates receive classroom coaching from skilled, experienced site coordinators and mentor teachers, and they are able to immediately apply principles from their practical coursework because they are actually teaching in a classroom almost every day.

“I couldn’t have dreamed up a better first year of the Texas Tech 2+1 program in Amarillo,” said Shalee Woodington, Texas Tech’s site coordinator for AISD schools. “Even in the midst of a pandemic, Amarillo ISD mentor teachers stepped up to the plate and modeled, taught, and coached our Texas Tech students and helped transform them into effective teachers.

“I feel 110 percent confident sending the newest Tech graduates to teach Amarillo ISD students this upcoming school year. This program is a beautiful collaboration between Amarillo College, Texas Tech University, and Amarillo ISD that focuses on growing teachers in Amarillo. The transformation I saw from the first day of class to the last day of class was unbelievable.

“This first cohort of Tech 2+1 students set the bar high,” Woodington said. “I love seeing all of these important partners in our area come together to enhance education in the Texas Panhandle.”

Jamey Germany is another AC product who completed TechTeach and looks forward to attending the Texas Tech graduation ceremony on Aug. 7 in Lubbock.

“This program totally sets you up for success,” said Germany, a native of Groom, Texas, who this fall will teach math at AISD’s Sam Houston Middle School. “Was it easy? No way, but with family and everything I might never have been able to manage a two-year bachelor’s program, so I’m totally glad I persevered. AC and Tech gave me confidence; Amarillo ISD is giving me a chance to have a career.”

Dennis Sarine, director of teacher preparation & early childhood education at Amarillo College, said he jumped at that chance to band together in partnership with Tech and AISD.

“So many of our education majors are hard-pressed to complete a traditional two-year bachelor’s degree because of the time it takes to completion,” Sarine said. “Then along comes TechTeach with its accelerated model.

“It’s a demanding program, but it presents an invaluable solution for not only our students who want to enter the workforce faster than they thought possible, but for school districts that have a critical need for teachers. We’re so proud that our first cohort is about to graduate from Tech and begin their careers in earnest.”

Anyone interested in learning more about TechTeach, Tech’s 2+1 teacher education program, may contact Shalee Woodington at swooding@ttu.edu.

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