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ACU, Texas Education Service Center Region 13 partner to address teacher shortage

Abilene Christian University is partnering with the Texas Education Service Center Region 13 to offer a unique set of fully-online degree programs and professional development pathways to both aspiring educators and working teaching professionals in Central Texas. 

In an effort to help solve the teacher shortage across the state, ACU and ESC Region 13 are establishing new pathways for prospective teachers to obtain their teaching certification, undergraduate degree or graduate degree while also helping upskill the next generation of district leaders by providing unparalleled opportunities to earn graduate degrees and advance their leadership capacity.

Dr. Rich Elsasser“ACU Online and ESC Region 13 are determined to offer practical and effective solutions to today’s teacher shortage. Through our collaboration, we collectively aim to serve and build the next wave of educators grounded in excellence and vocational mission,” said Rich Elsasser, executive director and chief executive officer of Region 13 Education Service Center

Divided into four essential pathways, the partnership will offer distinct programs for every level, including high school students, paraprofessionals, certified teachers and district administrators.  

As a joint effort between ESC Region 13, Lamar Institute of Technology and ACU, the Classroom to Career program connects driven high school students interested in pursuing a career in education with mentoring faculty members to earn dual-credit amounting to an associate’s degree to enter their school’s talent pool of qualified teaching aids upon high school graduation. As paraprofessional positions become more widely available, students will not only have the opportunity to work as a certified instructor within their district but also be offered guaranteed admission, with reduced tuition rates, into ACU Online’s Bachelor of Science in Integrated Studies program, which will prepare them to become fully licensed teachers in their home district as soon as two years after high school graduation. 

Dedicated to improving the quality of instruction at ESC Region 13 schools, the Level Up program provides existing paraprofessionals the opportunity to earn their undergraduate degree and teaching certification through c0-enrollment in ACU Online’s Bachelor of Science in Integrated Studies program and in ESC Region 13’s Educator Certificate Program. 

Focused on addressing the teacher shortage in Central Texas, the New Teacher Pathway helps preselected individuals make a career change to become newly certified and licensed teachers within ESC Region 13 ISDs. Plus, through the Grow Your Own Dual Credit Instructor program, current high school teachers will be able to earn the required credentials to serve as teachers of record at post-secondary institutions offering academic dual credit courses. This program will also allow ISD teachers to teach in the Classroom to Career courses as affiliate faculty members of ACU Online. Both programs are designed to promote academic excellence and empower new and existing teachers by earning a Master of Education in Instruction and Learning through ACU Online.

Recognized for offering one of the best online Ed.D. programs in the country by Fortune, ACU extends its continuing education efforts to district administrators by providing the Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership in exclusive cohorts for Central Texas educators taught by leaders in ESC Region 13. Geared towards enhancing each administrator’s gifts and talents through reflective practice, this program seeks to guide individuals toward finding the personal meaning and purpose behind their work with students and staff. 

“Through our innovative partnership with ESC Region 13, we are connecting career goals with each individual’s current strengths and aspirations,” said Dr. Stephen Johnson, chief executive officer for ACU’s Dallas campus. “Our customized online programs provide unparalleled opportunities for every level of aspiring and current educators to further their education to better serve their district. This partnership is just the beginning of how ACU will go beyond the role of offering innovative online classes and expand into an advocacy role for qualified teachers across the state.” 

ACU’s online programs are administered through its branch location in Dallas and include 15 bachelor’s degrees, 15 master’s degrees, four doctoral degrees, two undergraduate certificate programs, and nine graduate certificate programs. For more about ESC Region 13 programs offered through ACU Online, visit

– Amanda Gibson
March 20, 2023

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