The Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA), in the U.S. Department of Education, recently awarded four research/training grants totaling over $10,000,000 to seven affiliates from the Texas A&M University Bilingual Education Program and the Center for Research and Development in Dual Language and Literacy Acquisition (CRDLLA), College of Education and Human Development.

Dr. Rafael Lara-Alecio, Regents Professor and Director of the Bilingual Education Programs and CRDLLA, received $2.75 million to address in-service bilingual and English as second language (ESL) teachers’ instructional enhancements (including state certification) delivered via online professional development across Texas and to research differences in instructional coaching and mentoring.

Dr. Héctor Rivera, Assistant Professor of Bilingual Education and Associate Member of CRDLLA, received $2.75 million to offer training to teachers and families in the Dallas area regarding best practices for English language learners and to conduct evaluation research regarding such.

Drs. Tracy Spies, Maggie Huerta, and Tiberio Garza, all Ph.D. graduates from the Bilingual Education Program, faculty at University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), and affiliates of the CRDLLA, received a $1.8 million grant to improve academic language instruction in early childhood settings and to determine the impact of this intervention. Dr. Sharolyn Durodola, a former Associate Professor in the Bilingual Education Program and current Professor at the UNLV, is also a Co-PI on the UNLV grant.

Another grant recipient is Dr. Polly Treviño, a Ph.D. graduate from the Bilingual Education Program and affiliate of the CRDLLA. She is currently Assistant Professor and Director of Bilingual/ESL Programs at Houston Baptist University, where she received a $2.75 million grant to increase the number of bilingual and ESL certified teachers in the Houston area and to provide them with professional development; additionally, she will analyze the results of the training.

All projects include an experimental research design for evaluation of effectiveness.

Dr. Lara-Alecio had the privilege to mentor and work with these individuals. He indicated, “Mentoring is and should be the most important commitment to our profession. Our commitment to the next generation of scholars is to pass on the necessary knowledge and skills to succeed in academia. Getting external funding is the most effective way to introduce our future colleagues to producing better research and quality teaching practices that will impact our educational system. I cannot be more than proud of my former students and my colleagues ‘learning to fish’ effectively in this world of opportunities.”