Educators at a private Islamic school in Houston are becoming Texas-certified teachers with help from the University of Houston-Victoria School of Education & Human Development.
"In today's world, a school needs to act as professionally as possible. That’s why we wanted all our teachers to be state certified," Iman Academy Superintendent Hamed Ghazali said.
Once the decision was made, the school went looking for an institution that could best meet its needs.
John Stansell, dean of the School of Education & Human Development, and Barba Patton, chair of initial certification and assistant professor, visited the academy and introduced Ghazali and his staff to the Victoria Online Initial Certification for Educators, or VOICE, program. The program allows those with bachelor’s degrees to become certified teachers almost entirely online.
"The program turned out to be exactly what we were looking for," Ghazali said. "It really meant a lot that they came and visited us and were willing to work with us to meet our needs."
He also noted the UHV program was very competitively priced compared with other options.
The first teacher has just finished the program; five teachers are enrolled in the program; and five are expected to enter the program in the spring.
"I thought it was a good program. It was pretty flexible given my schedule," said Tamseela Ulhaque, a second-grade teacher at the academy who was the first to enter the program. She, in turn, persuaded other teachers to join her. Ulhaque noted she also earned her bachelor''s degree from UHV.
Assisting the Iman Academy is part of fulfilling one of the main duties of the School of Education & Human Development, Stansell said.
"Part of our mission in the school is to improve the overall quality of education across the state," Stansell said. "One of the ways we do that is by helping ensure that as many teachers as possible meet the high standards Texas sets to receive certification."
A person with a bachelor’s degree can become certified in Texas by taking six online classes in the program and completing an internship, Patton said.
"The program was started about four years ago specifically to combat the state teacher shortage by making it easier for professionals to make the transition to the classroom,” Patton said.
Since it started, about 100 people have completed the program as part of their preparation for rewarding new careers as classroom teachers. For more information about the VOICE program, contact Patton at 361-570-4271 or firstname.lastname@example.org.