“Grow Their Own” tackles local teacher shortage, boosts options for paraprofessionals 

Published 11:11 am Tuesday, April 11, 2023

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VIDOR — Three educational institutions put their minds together to combat teacher shortages by creating a pathway to success for paraprofessionals across the region.

Administrators from Vidor Independent School District, Lamar State College Orange and Lamar University met Tuesday morning to celebrate a co-enrollment partnership. The effort aims to bridge the gap for paraprofessionals eager to further their education.

Lamar State College Orange President Dr. Tom Johnson said the demand for qualified teachers in Texas is at an all-time high.

“We are thrilled to establish this partnership with Lamar University and Vidor ISD to produce more teachers to address this shortfall,” he said. “These bright students will no doubt have a lasting impact in our community, and in making a vibrant, Talent Strong Texas, moving forward.”

Through this program, a cohort of paraprofessionals employed by Vidor ISD enroll in Lamar State College Orange’s Associate of Arts in Teaching program with courses being taught at Vidor ISD.

The first cohort, made up of Vidor ISD and Newton ISD employees, began their LSCO courses in the Fall and will take their first Lamar University co-enrolled course in the Summer.

This allows them to obtain a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies.

Lamar University President Dr. Jaime Taylor said providing career-ready graduates for the community is a top priority, and the university is dedicated to workforce need solutions.

“The partnership with Lamar State College Orange and Vidor ISD is an excellent example of how collaboration can work to create a sustainable workforce for Southeast Texas,” Taylor said. “We look forward to providing support ensuring student success and watching this program grow.”

Vidor Superintendent Dr. Jay Killgo said the collaborative effort provides a tremendous opportunity to recent graduates “to pursue a career in a field they love while working at Vidor ISD as instructional aides.

“We look forward to continuing to grow this program for our community and bringing the best and brightest into the field of education,” he said.