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HCDE Teacher Alternative Certification features Flexibility, Personal Instruction, Grant Reimbursement

 Information session held December for classes beginning January 2014

New teacher Annette Reyes acknowledges a love for the “ah-ha” moments in her elementary classroom.   These are instances when her students “get it” or work together successfully as a team on a project.

“Working with kids in education is where I want to be,” said Reyes, a certified teacher who completed the Teacher Alternative Certification program at Harris County Department of Education.  She currently works at Garden Oaks Elementary in the Houston Independent School District. Her Montessori classroom includes students in first through third grades.

HCDE educator preparation program provides a personalized training experience for aspiring  teachers as qualified college graduates enter the program and spend 7 to 10 months in pre-service training taking teacher preparation courses.  The next 12 months are spent teaching.  However, as a recipient of a grant, Reyes will be provided support with professional development and advisory sessions for two additional years after being certified.  This additional support is provided through a federal grant secured by the program. The grant which cover 20 teacher-in-training positions refunds $3,600 in tuition over the three years she commits to teaching in a Title 1 school in a high-need school district.

“Our program in unique because we  offer 65-75 percent program cost reimbursements to our grant participants who teach elementary,  bilingual-Spanish, English as a second language,  special education or secondary math, science, and English Language Arts,” said HCDE Teacher Alternative  Certification director Lidia Zatopek. “For convenience, we hold our classes in the evenings and occasionally on weekends and provide both online and face-to-face learning opportunities.”

Small group instruction is also hallmark to the program, with a range in classroom size of eight to 20 students.

“It’s really what I liked about the program—the smaller groups, individual support and quick response to email questions,” said Reyes.  She also liked the option of online learning for some of the classes.

A 100 percent pass rate for program completers on all teacher certification tests is recorded in the program since 2011. Assistance is provided to pass certification exams and to secure teaching assignments.

A new cohort or class of aspiring teachers will begin classes and training on Jan. 13, 2014.  The application deadline is Dec. 16.

Information sessions about the program are free and will be held Dec. 5 and 10 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Call 713-696-1348 for information or register by date at .


About HCDE:  Harris County Department of Education provides education services to the general public and 25 school districts throughout Harris County and beyond. Services include adult education, programs to promote safe schools, after-school programs, therapy services, professional development for educators, special schools, alternative certification for principals and teachers, Early Childhood Intervention and Head Start programs. We offer purchasing procurement, grant development, program research and evaluation, records management, and school finance support. Since 1889, our services continue to evolve to meet the needs of our education public. Visit us at

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