July 3, 2013 – The Homegrown Program has started to make the task of balancing work and the dream to pursue a teaching degree for paraprofessionals in the Klein ISD a reality by celebrating its first-ever graduate. Maria Beeson graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Houston on May 18, 2013.
Qualified bilingual teachers were scarce and when the district experienced a growing demand in this area, the Homegrown Program was developed as a way to offer monetary support to Klein ISD paraprofessionals who were working toward a degree in teaching to encourage them to pursue their bachelor’s degree in Bilingual Education. The Homegrown Program has strict guidelines which specify that the participants must pass all courses, which is verified by the semester transcripts, must take at least 15 credit hours per school year and the participants agreed that once they were certified bilingual teachers they would return to work in Klein for a minimum of 3 years.
As a child Beeson showed interest in teaching, but not until she began working for the Klein ISD as a teacher assistant in 2001 did she realize that working with children was something she wanted to do as her full-time career. While working full-time and also being a wife and mother, Beeson’s desire was to continue her education while still taking care of her family. The Homegrown Program was able to provide her with an option that provided her the time, flexibility and support to achieve this new found dream.
“I was determined to overcome whatever obstacle I encountered to fulfill my dream,” stated Beeson. “Fortunately for me, I began working in a school district that provided support to its employees through the Homegrown Program,” she added.
The pace of the program consisted of projects, reading, fieldwork, observations, projects and much more that Beeson had to balance with home and work. She knew that there would be occasions that would require a sacrifice of time with family or friends, but knew that wouldn’t last forever.
I knew that it was necessary to sacrifice the present for calm and well-being in the future,” said Beeson. “And I knew that the results would not take long to appear,” she continued.
Beeson had to adjust to the pace of work and organize her time. At the beginning of the program, she was able to continue working as a full-time employee, but as the program required extra time for observations, she knew it would be difficult to continue.
“The pace of the program was okay at the beginning, but I had to accommodate at the end with all of the projects, reading, observations and fieldwork combined with my full time position,” said Beeson. “It was certainly exhausting; however, the pleasant work environment and the relationships with my colleagues in the university made the experience something unique. They turned the amount of work into something comfortable,” she added.
“It is a huge honor to know that this achievement in my life is the opening for others that the Homegrown Program will support,” said Beeson. “ I was blessed with this unique opportunity that was offered to me and being the first graduate is a clear sign that the program is quite effective and suitable, but is designed so that you make it possible,” she stated.
Beeson offered a little advice to other Klein ISD employees currently in the program.
“Being in a process at this level will require many times of sacrifice, but do not despair, be persistent and keep always in view your primary objective,” said Beeson. “Although, the path will not be easy your achievements will not be small. This program is only waiting for those who will be able to try to overcome their own limits.”