Before she graduated from college in December and for weeks after she took a job, Basilia Delgado got offers to teach from other schools.
“I picked the right field at the right time,” said Delgado, a bilingual kindergarten teacher at Garcia Elementary School in Grand Prairie. “Around the Metroplex they really need bilingual teachers.”
Delgado, 23, is the first undergraduate student at the University of Texas at Arlington to complete her degree through the Bilingual Early Childhood Education Program. The program is funded through a $1.2 million federal grant that was awarded to the school in the fall.
The five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education funds scholarships, stipends and office equipment. The scholarships, which average $2,500, cover tuition, fees and a $50 book allowance.
The program aims to increase the number of qualified bilingual teachers, said Luis Rosado, UT-Arlington’s director of bilingual and early childhood education.
“There’s a high need in the state and in the nation for bilingual teachers,” he said. “There’s such a need that sometimes students get hired even before they finish.”
More than 40 percent of students in Texas are of Hispanic origin, according to the Texas Education Agency. Nationwide, 2.8 million elementary and secondary students have limited proficiency in English, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
Prospective teachers must be able to speak Spanish to qualify for the bilingual program. But there’s more to working in a bilingual classroom than understanding the language, said Uvaldina Turley, co-coordinator of the urban education program at El Centro College in Dallas, which is sharing the grant money.
“You help students and the parents be more comfortable,” she said. “If you are coming from the same cultural background, they get comfortable with you, and that helps them succeed.”
The program addresses bilingual education at three levels: high school, community college and the university. UT-Arlington is working with the Dallas County Community College District and Dallas public schools.
At Townview High School in Dallas, students with an interest in teaching are recruited to attend El Centro College or to go directly to UT-Arlington.
The program at El Centro serves a large number of students who are the first in their families to attend college and gives them an extra boost they need to be successful, Turley said.
“We can prepare students who might have a talent for teaching, a desire and an ability, but their academic standards may not be acceptable,” she said.
Students who graduate from El Centro with an associate’s degree in urban education are guaranteed transfer admission to UT-Arlington and a scholarship covering tuition.
Since the program began in the fall, about 45 students have received scholarships.
To ensure the program’s success, students who fail the state required exams will be given individualized instruction by a faculty member.
“The success of this program will be measured based on the students who get into the teaching field,” Rosado said.
Delgado said she has known since the fifth grade – when she moved from Juarez, Mexico, to El Paso – that she wanted to be a teacher. The program grant helped make that possible, she said. Now she plans to pursue a master’s degree through the program.
“This program is one of the big reasons I came to UT-Arlington,” she said.
Jan Jarvis, (817) 548-5423 [email protected]
The Bilingual Early Childhood Education Program Scholarships for Spanish-speaking students attending the University of Texas at Arlington and El Centro College in Dallas. Participants must maintain a minimum grade-point average of 2.75 and be a full-time student. Scholarships available for the summer and fall semesters. To apply, contact Luis Rosado at (817) 272-7567. Or go to To apply, contact Luis Rosado at (817) 272-7567. Or go to www.uta.edu/soe/