Texarkana ISD receives multi-million dollar grant for autism training for teachers

Teachers in Texarkana, Texas will receive special training related to autism thanks to a grant...
Teachers in Texarkana, Texas will receive special training related to autism thanks to a grant from the state.(KSLA)
Published: May. 6, 2022 at 3:23 PM CDT
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TEXARKANA, Texas (KSLA) - The Texas Education Agency is investing in a special group of east Texas students with a multi-million dollar grant for teacher training. The Texarkana Independent School District (TISD) is taking the lead in the program.

“This is fantastic! It’s going to make an impact in our schools and in our surrounding community,” said Becky Grahm, special education coordinator.

Grahm and Kacey Jenkins, another special education coordinator, helped to write an application, which resulted in TISD being awarded a $5.7 million Innovative Services Grant for students with autism. Teacher training is the main goal for this grant.

“We want to make sure our schools have the skills and strategies necessary to work successfully with our students with autism,” said Grahm.

TISD leaders say the grant will impact every campus in the Texarkana district and will establish a Shared Service Arrangement with 18 other east Texas school districts, affecting more than 200 educators.

April Carter is a veteran TISD instructor and teaches students with autism and other disabilities on the Dunbar campus.

“It is going to help us receive training that we need, training that we need to understand about the world of autism we can use in our classroom and pass on to our students,” Carter said.

This Innovative Services Grant will cover a period of two years, but school officials say they hope to reap the benefits for many more years to come.

“It allows us, Texarkana ISD, to have sustainability once the grant funds are gone because we will build competency within our own staff and other area district staff,” Jenkins said.

TISD will begin using funds from this grant as early as the summer of 2022 by sponsoring a summer camp for any student with autism enrolled in any of the 18 districts joining TISD.

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