The Big 4-0
Allen Warner addresses the general session of the Student Teaching Inter-Institutional Conference held at the Cullen Performance Hall.
To understand the impact of the Houston Area Teacher Center (HATC), consider this: its member school districts serve over 1,000,000 children - more than Alaska, Rhode Island, Vermont, South Dakota, North Dakota, New Hampshire, Hawaii, and Washington DC combined.
As a consortium of the UH College of Education and 34 Houston area public school districts, HATC provides a forum for representatives from each school district to solve issues of common concern. Together district and UH representatives discuss certification areas that districts would like to focus on, job placements for student teachers, policy statements and more.
HATC has used collaboration and imagination to change the educational landscape of the Houston area. It may not be a household name, but HATC has a great deal to celebrate at it turns forty.
School district representatives answer questions during the panel presentation at Cullen Performance Hall.
In 1971, HATC began with only six Houston area school districts under the direction of UH Professor Robert Houston. A grant from the US Office of Education funded it initially, but the innovative concept caught fire. One of the first teacher advisory groups of its kind in the country, HATC’s success helped inspire the State of Texas to mandate that similar teacher centers be created across the state. Over the years, the consortium has bloomed in its size and impact.
“HATC is institutional cooperation at a grand scale,” said Executive Director Allen Warner. “We work to be responsive to the needs of the community and act as a forum for representatives in school systems. It’s a place to talk about our mutual needs and develop real solutions for administrators, teachers and kids.”
Pearland ISD representatives ready to welcome potential teachers for the Student Teaching Job Fair at the University Center.
The Center’s popular biannual Student Teaching Inter-Institutional Conference and Job Fair has grown to include not only 34 public school districts but also eight Texan universities. Each semester, 400 to 500 student teachers meet to attend workshops, network, and meet with representatives from area schools.
Student Teacher preparing to interview with school district representatives at the Job Fair.
“Our HATC partners give our program the key connections to what is happening in districts—hiring needs, teacher concerns, and new initiatives. We meet regularly with our district partners, and I can point to countless examples of program initiatives that have come directly out of our good conversations,” said Professor Melissa Pierson, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies and Certification. "The Inter-Institutional Student Teaching Conference in particular gives our teacher candidates a chance to meet and make important connections."
HATC has plans for future projects already underway, including a cooperative program in which UH would prepare certified teachers to teach dual-credit high school classes. This certification program is a cooperative effort which includes the Department of Curriculum and Instruction and a number of departments across the campus. The impact will be that more Houston area high school students will have the opportunity to earn college level credit before graduating.
After forty years and counting, HATC shows no sign of slowing the work of making solutions for Houston’s unique educational challenges.