Peggy Wimberley of CIE's Migrant Student Program
CIE’s Peggy Wimberley helps migrant students meet the challenge of distance education
5/5/2010Peggy Wimberley has worked in Continuing & Innovative Education (CIE) for 26 years. Since 1987, her work has focused primarily on the K-16 Education Center's Migrant Student Graduation Enhancement Program. The Migrant Student Program aims to increase the high school graduation rate of Texas migrant students by providing them with non-traditional, distance education methods for earning high school credits.
How did you become involved with the Migrant Program?
“I began at UT in 1980 as an assistant at the General Libraries. From there, I transferred to the Dean of Students Office for a unit called Project Development. In 1984, I transferred to CIE, to a component then called the Extension Instruction and Materials Center (EIMC). Our first project—a huge undertaking—was to provide training for taking the Texas Examination of Current Administrators and Teachers, or TECAT. For this project, we conducted workshops each Saturday for seven months to train over 87,000 teachers and administrators to successfully pass the TECAT. From there, we created a new unit called Special Projects, and in 1987 that unit started the Migrant Student Program.”
Why is the Migrant Program important?
“Education profoundly impacts the lives of migrant students—allowing them to break the cycle of working in the fields, which may be many generations long in their families. Since the program began, over 15,000 students have earned credit in our program. The course completion rate for students who enroll in our courses and exams has steadily increased over the years and is currently at 85%. One of our most notable successes is 1998 Student of the Year Roman Hernandez, who earned a master's degree in architecture from Savannah College of Art and Design and is now working as an architect.”
What does the Migrant Program do?
“Our program helps students graduate from high school by offering distance learning courses that allow them to earn high school credit toward graduation requirements and prepare them for the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) exam. We also award scholarships to help graduates pursue college degrees. Since 2002, we have awarded scholarships to 27 recipients, of those recipients, six have earned bachelors degrees, 16 are attending college, and five are still in high school.”
What has made the Migrant Program successful?
“Early on, we learned that it is not enough just to offer courses. Students need support, motivation, and encouragement. We provide this in several different ways. First, we assist in the training of educators who work with migrant students. Every year, I travel to schools both in Texas and to the states where Texas students migrate to train educators on how to support our migrant students. Later this month, we will begin conducting this training via online webinars—eliminating the high costs of travel and allowing us to connect with more schools.
Second, we reward outstanding performances by educators. Since 1993, we have presented awards at the annual Texas Migrant Education Conference to the school districts with the highest migrant student completion rates. For the past four years, our Students of the Year have presented these awards.
Third, we annually publish an Exemplary Migrant Students book and recognize each student at our recognition ceremony. One of my most memorable moments working with the migrant program was when Senator Ted Kennedy's office called and requested copies of the 1997 Exemplary Migrant Students book to share with a Congressional committee addressing the re-authorization of the U.S. migrant education program.”