UTSA Academy of Teacher Excellence named Excelencia Award finalist

faculty at ceremony

At the recent Excelencia ceremony in Washington, D.C., are (from left) Jeanne Reesman (UTSA professor of English), Lorena Claeys (UTSA Academy of Teacher Excellence director), Betty Merchant (dean of the UTSA College of Education and Human Development), U.S. Rep. Charlie Gonzales, Betty Travis (UTSA professor emeritus) and Belinda Bustos Flores (UTSA professor and chair of the Department of Bicultural-Bilingual Studies).

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By Christi Fish
Associate Director of Media Relations

(Oct. 22, 2012) -- The UTSA Academy of Teacher Excellence (ATE) was recognized as an Example of Excelencia Award finalist in the undergraduate school category. College of Education Dean Betty Merchant, ATE Executive Director Lorena Claeys, Professor Emeritus Betty Travis and Bicultural-Bilingual Studies Professor, Department Chair and ATE Founder Belinda Bustos Flores accepted the award on behalf of ATE at a recent event at the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

Excelencia in Education is one of America's top programs in increasing degree completion among Latinos at the associate, bachelor's and graduate degree levels. The organization aims to accelerate higher education success for Latino students by providing data-driven analysis of the educational status of Latino students and by promoting education policies and institutional practices that support their academic achievement.

Of the 500 programs that have been nominated since 2005, more than 100 have been chosen as outstanding models and resources for higher education success and contributions to continued research and education policy. This year, 159 programs were nominated and 16 finalists were chosen. ATE was nominated by Elvia Niebla, a soil scientist.

ATE was established as a hub for school districts, community colleges and UTSA to collaboratively research, design, implement and evaluate educational programs that address emerging, local and statewide educational issues associated with a growing diverse student population. The academy is a critical element of the UTSA College of Education and Human Development teacher education programs and has helped UTSA achieve national recognition as a leader in preparing teachers to teach in culturally diverse settings.

Last year, ATE was awarded a five-year Title V grant for Hispanic-serving institutions from the U.S. Department of Education for $4.2 million, bringing ATE's total funding to more than $17 million since it was founded in 2003. The funding is helping ATE increase the number of undergraduate students and teacher candidates majoring in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), in addition to bilingual and special education.

Excelencia in Education honored ATE's efforts in Latino student's financial concerns, educator preparation, informed quantitative and qualitative research, and creating functional relationships between community, schools and higher education institutions.

"The Academy of Teacher Excellence has providing training to more than 2,000 teachers who seek to work with diverse student populations," said Merchant. "It is an honor to be named an Excelencia Award finalist for the work that we are doing to train teachers and to develop impactful relationships with K-12 and community supporters throughout San Antonio."

>> Learn more at the UTSA Academy of Teacher Excellence website.