Participants will receive $45,000 stipend for living expenses


FARMINGTON — A Farmington nonprofit organization has been awarded a $5 million federal grant to recruit qualified individuals to teach at one of six school districts in the state.

The Three Rivers Education Foundation received the five-year grant from the Teacher Quality Partnership Grant Program at the U.S. Department of Education.

The Three Rivers Teacher Quality Partnership is recruiting 45 participants to earn a master's degree in education from Eastern New Mexico University, then complete three years of teaching at one of the designated districts.

Participants could teach at the Bloomfield School District, the Central Consolidated School District, Clovis Municipal Schools, Cuba Independent Schools, the Farmington Municipal School District and Taos Municipal Schools.

The goal of the program is to find qualified candidates who will become long-term teachers of high quality and who are well prepared, according to program coordinator Bobbie Zemanek-White.

The program aims to fill math, science or special education teacher positions as New Mexico deals with what Zemanek-White described as a dramatic teacher shortage.

"Districts can't find teachers for positions. They have long-term subs in positions they should have qualified teachers," Zemanek-White said.

Those selected for the program will receive a one-year living-wage stipend of $45,000 for pay for living expenses while enrolled in the online master's degree program at Eastern New Mexico University.

Other costs, including books and tuition, are not included.

About 40 percent of the residency will be dedicated to the online coursework, and 60 percent will be spent in a classroom with a teacher-mentor, according to Zemanek-White.

After completing their master's degree program, participants will be committed to teaching at least three years at a school in the district where they did their residency.

Participants will receive support from coaches at the nonprofit through the end of the three-year teaching commitment, according to coach Pat Martinez-Lopez.

"We're working with them in the classroom on strategies, working with them on planning instruction," Martinez-Lopez said. "Also, if they run into any problems with their course load at the university."

Coaches will meet with participants twice a month in their mentor teacher's classroom and through monthly training as a group.

That support is crucial for those in the program, and it helps participants deal with stressful situations knowing they can call someone to ask questions, Martinez-Lopez said.

Additional information on the Three Rivers Teacher Quality Partnership can be found at

Zemanek-White can be contacted at 505-486-4874 or at

Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at

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