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One hundred high school teachers from 23 school districts will receive free computer training this summer through a unique program that will qualify them for nationally recognized certifications in the information technology (IT) field.

The goal of the Teacher Technology Training Camp is to increase the number of industry-certified IT teachers in Texas. The pilot program is a joint project of TEEX, Texas Industrial Vocational Association (TIVA) and the Texas Workforce Commission through the Coastal Bend and Alamo Workforce Development Boards.

“There is a shortage in Texas of teachers that are computer savvy. We will be preparing high school teachers who don’t have computer-related degrees,” said Jacqueline Martinez, who is coordinating the program for the Career Advancement and Applied Technology Training Division of TEEX.

“Many districts don’t have teachers trained in information technology and so they may have the history teacher, science teacher or football coach trying to teach computer courses,” she added.

Diana Range, director of Coastal Bend Workforce Development Board’s School to Careers Partnership, says: “I talk with superintendents and principals every week that express concern that they’re unable to find sufficient certified information technology teachers for the courses they wish to offer. The Teacher Technology Camp you are proposing would allow districts to offer more students the opportunity to prepare for 21st century careers.”

The Texas Workforce Commission has identified computer technology as one of the top three training needs in Texas and is funding the program through an APEX Demonstration Grant of $873,670.

Teachers may choose one of two training “tracks” that will provide them with nationally recognized industry certifications. Track I focuses on computer hardware including PC repair and troubleshooting. Classes will be held from July 1-30 and prepare teachers for certification as A , CTT or CST.

The focus of Track II is personal computer operation using the Microsoft Office Suite, and classes will be held from June 24 to Aug. 1. Those electing Track II will work toward the Master MOUS certification, which includes five separate exams on Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access and Outlook.

Up to 25 teachers may enroll in each of the four classes, Martinez said. Two classes will be held in Kingsville and two at the TEEX South Presa location in San Antonio. The free training is valued at several thousand dollars and all participants receive the textbook, exam prep software and exam vouchers, she added. Through TEEX, participants will also be eligible for Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credit from the State Board of Educator Certification.

“This is hands-on training at its best. It’s important for them to have the chance to have hands-on training, so that they learn to incorporate this into their curriculum,” Martinez said. “It also gives them the opportunity to network with other teachers from across the state.”

After the class ends, the teachers will have access to a web site with a message board so they can ask questions or find out what’s working in other schools. In addition, TEEX instructors will staff a help desk for program participants. If the teachers run into glitches, they can access the help desk beyond the camp this summer, Martinez said.

Throughout the school year, participants may attend train-the-trainer workshops, Certified Technical Trainer (CTT) exam preparation classes and CTT video preparation sessions.

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