Illinois State University’s College of Education is the recipient of a grant for more than $1.39 million to help Chicago-area paraprofessionals make the transition to certified teacher with bilingual and English-as-a-Second Language (ESL) approvals.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement announced the award of the  five-year grant for Transitioning Paraprofessionals into Teachers of English Learners (TPTEL), a partnership between Illinois State and four Chicago-area school districts with the aim of increasing the number of skilled teachers who work with Latino students learning English.

“There is a shortage of qualified teachers for English language learners,” said Deborah Curtis, dean of the College of Education at Illinois State. “The TPTEL partnership will help address this gap.”

This year the program will receive more than $257,000 to begin the recruitment and training of 51 paraprofessionals currently serving English-language learners as teachers’ aides or as support staff in schools. The five-year project will guide paraprofessionals earning teaching certification and bilingual and ESL approval. “These are individuals who are already in the field, and will obtain the credentials they need through our program at Illinois State University. We will deliver the coursework on site at a central Waukegan location,” said Maria Zamudio, project director and assistant coordinator of bilingual education at Illinois State.

Pauline Clardy, bilingual education coordinator and Elizabeth Skinner, assistant professor of bilingual/bicultural elementary education, will join Zamudio in bringing TPTEL to Waukegan School District 60, North Chicago District 187, Round Lake School District 116, and Zion School District 6.

“These are high-need areas,” said Clardy. “Statistics show us that more than half of the students are considered low-income, and a majority of the low-income students are Latino. One of the challenges for some Latino students is obtaining a quality education in all of the content areas while developing their language skills in English and their heritage languages.” Clardy added that the TPTEL program will provide paraprofessionals with hands-on experiences to hone skills for working with bilingual students.

Recruitment for the program begins in the spring, with classes slated to begin summer or fall of next year. For additional information on the TPTEL, contact Zamudio at (309) 438-3105 or, or contact Clardy at (309) 438-5882 or

One thought on “New program receives $1.39 million to assist English learners

  1. Shirley M. Peters says:

    I am a graduate of ISU with a degree in elementary ed. K-9. I also have a Masters degree in curriculum and ed from National College of Ed. With that I earned my certificate of approval in ESL in 1889. I have retired from teaching ESL but continue to tutor in the Naperville area. I know the need is great in the Aurora area. Any plans to put the program in place there? I would like to help out in any way that I can (volunteer), but Waukegan is too far to drive.
    Shirley Peters BS -1958