WASHINGTON (Sept. 8, 2021) – Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) met with New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) and Las Cruces Public Schools officials for the announcement of a new Educator Fellows Program made possible through funds secured by Senator Heinrich in the American Rescue Plan. The group held a discussion today about the benefits of the new initiative at Booker T. Washington Elementary School in Las Cruces, New Mexico, which will be one of the first schools to implement the program.

The new program is using nearly $40 million in American Rescue Plan funds to create a temporary job corps of educational assistants and support staff for school districts to provide small-group instruction and tutoring to accelerate learning for students. The initiative is spearheaded by PED Deputy Secretary Gwen Perea Warniment.

“As schools return to the classroom after a year of online learning, teachers will need additional help to provide small group instruction and targeted tutoring. We also have many caring, capable folks in our communities who are interested in the education field but who may lack classroom experience,” said Heinrich. “I’m pleased that the New Mexico Public Education Department is using some of the over $1 billion of federal funding that I helped secure in the American Rescue Plan for New Mexico’s public schools to stand up this new Educator Fellows Program. This is a promising solution for both our schools’ short-term needs and our state’s long-term educator workforce pipeline challenge.”

“Our goal is to create one of the nation’s best educator ecosystems,” said Public Education Secretary Designate Kurt Steinhaus. “This program can serve as a pathway for more people to enter the education profession.”

“Support staff are key to making big improvements in schools,” said Deputy Secretary Warniment. “Not only does this program provide support for existing teachers and students, it gets people into classrooms so that they know what it’s like. Then they can go on to become counselors, school nurses, and yes, teachers.”

“Getting more people into the building that care about kids, that can offer time, tutoring, compassion and support for these students at Booker T. Washington, is the best use of Federal funds. This is something that Karen Trujillo was both the architect, and champion for, this blueprint – but now we have the money to do it, thanks to Senator Heinrich,” said Dr. Tim Hand, Las Cruces Public Schools Chief of Staff.

School districts and state-chartered schools have until Sept. 20 to apply to participate. Those chosen will receive grants to cover these costs:

  • An educational assistant’s full salary plus benefits
  • A $4,000 stipend to support each fellow’s postsecondary education
  • All licensure and background fees

Additionally, the department will provide a boot camp-style training before fellows start in the classroom, as well as coaching and support throughout their time in the program.

Any district or state-chartered school may apply by responding to this Request for Information. Priority will be given to districts and schools with larger populations of at-risk students and elementary schools.

Senator Heinrich and Congressional Democrats championed the American Rescue Plan, which included more than $1 billion for New Mexico K-12 public schools. A large share of that funding went directly to local school districts with flexibility to meet their specific needs.

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