The overriding goal of the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education Latino and Language Minority Teacher Projects (L2mtp) is to increase the number of Latinos(as) and language minorities in the teaching profession by creating a career track for practicing language minority paraeducators.

The primary strategy in achieving this goal is to provide support and assistance, financially, socially and academically to promising paraeducators to enable them to successfully complete a teacher education program and become successful bilingual teachers. The information gained through this process continues to be disseminated to other institutions, both public and private, with the intent of building the capacity to continue and expand the program both statewide and nationally. (See our National Clearinghouse for Paraeducator Resources and the Electronic Discussion Forum on Paraeducators).

School reformers have often pointed to the lack of synchrony between home and school culture as well as the striking discontinuity between teacher and student diversity as significant obstacles to minority student achievement. By diversifying the teaching force paraeducators have the potential to become the ideal teachers of our nation's students.

The participants in the L2mtp projects are employed bilingual paraeducators who work daily in classrooms of eligible schools throughout the Los Angeles area while attending classes full time at participating Project universities. To maintain eligibility in the project and meet California certification requirements, participants must have a GPA that places them in the top half of their college cohort and make steady progress toward program completion.

Three different groups of paraeducators may apply:

The L2mtp is administered by USC and overseen by a widely representative consortium that shares in decision making and provides substantial support for participants in the Project. From the start, consortium members have met as a committee of the whole on a regular basis to review plans and progress. Organizations that sit on the committee include:

Four Universities:

Three school districts and a county office of education:

Two labor organizations:

The L2mtp features a variety of components offering academic and social support:

    • COHORTS of paraeducators are formed to build cooperative peer support systems for participants working or attending school in the same geographical area.

    • FACULTY MENTORS (practicing teachers, counselors, coordinators, administrators) are assigned at the paraeducator's home school to provide guidance around instructional, academic, and/or social problems. Faculty Mentors receive specific training provided by the project and their continued professional development is sponsored by the project via attendance at professional conferences and seminars. University personnel provide additional advisement and counseling on program and institutional matters.

      Michael Genzuk, Principal Investigator for the Latino and Language Minority Teacher Project, advises participating students on academic and instructional activities.

    • ADJUNCT CLASS SESSIONS are held for paraeducators who need academic assistance, especially around math, science, literacy, and preparation for the CBEST, the required California Basic Educational Skills Test, a major barrier for many paraeducators.

    • PROJECT SEMINARS, attended by L2mtp participants, faculty mentors, university personnel, and consortium representatives, address educational concerns not traditionally covered in teacher education programs. Recognized authorities conduct seminars in such areas as language acquisition; educational policy; teaching, learning and schooling in a socio-cultural context; bilingualism and biliteracy, etc. Recently Dr. Virginia Collier of George Mason University presented her recent research on Acquiring a Second Language for School. This is considered to be one of the most comprehensive studies ever done on two-way bilingual immersion programs.

      Reynaldo Baca, Director of the USC Rossier School of Education's Latino and Language Minority Teacher Project, works with veteran teachers who will provide support to the Project's participants.

    • PROJECT SOCIALS for participants, their families, and other participating stakeholders not only bring participants together for social interaction and mutual support, but also help in bridging cultural differences. For example, spouses and parents who are not supportive or disapprove of wives/husbands or children becoming teachers can be both reassured and persuaded to change their minds about the ways graduates contribute to community empowerment through interactions with successful graduates, faculty, civic leaders, and other families.

    • SCHOOL SITE STAFF DEVELOPMENT MEETINGS inform classroom teachers and administrators about pressures on participants and assistance they require.

    • PARTICIPATION IN PROFESSIONAL CONFERENCES enhances the professional development of project participants, their mentors, and colleagues at the home school.


      Now in its tenth year, the project recruits bilingual paraeducators and encourages them to go into teaching. Read the Chronicle story about the successful project.

      Elida Cossio, a senior education major who is a paraeducator at Humphreys Avenue Elementary School in east Los Angeles, is training to become a bilingual teacher. Above, she works with fourth and fifth grade students.

      The Doris Westcott - "Helen of Troy" Scholarship

      Through the generous donations of Mrs. Doris T. Westcott, The University of Southern California's first "Helen of Troy", the prestigious HELEN OF TROY SCHOLARSHIP for Latina(o) paraeducators pursuing teaching as a career was established in 1993. The recipients of the HELEN OF TROY SCHOLARSHIPS are L2mtp bilingual paraeducator/university students who work daily in classrooms of local schools while pursuing their academic degree and teaching credentials at the University of Southern California. The award recipients have demonstrated the highest qualities in both their academic pursuits, professional development and humanitarian qualities that will enable them to successfully complete a teacher education program and become successful teachers.

      The USC Latino and Language Minority Teacher Project is one of twelve programs recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as "exemplary" in a recent study on recruiting minorities into bilingual education, "Model Strategies in Bilingual Education: Professional Development".

      It is also one of nine programs profiled in the national study conducted by Recruiting New Teachers, Inc., "Breaking the Class Ceiling: Paraeducators Pathways to Teaching." This study is an examination of selected paraeducator to teacher programs around the country that are enabling thousands of talented and experienced men and women to capitalize on their classroom experience and make the transition to full time teaching.

      Paraeducator-To-Teacher Pipeline: A 5-Year Retrospective on an Innovative Teacher Preparation Program for Latina(os).

      This article by Michael Genzuk and Reynaldo Baca published in the "Journal on Education and Urban Society" provides a 5-year retrospective on the experience of planning and carrying out the Latino and Language Minority Teacher Project paraeducator-to teacher pipeline program. Described are how the project works, lessons learned to date, and directions for the future.

      Review Dr. Michael Genzuk's recent presentation on the Latino and Language Minority Teacher Project at the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) 60th Annual Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana.

      Paraeducator Pathways into Teaching.

      View Dr. Reynaldo Baca's presentation on Paraeducator Pathways at the National Association for Bilingual Education Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana.

      The Paraeducator to Teacher Pipeline.


      Dr. Reynaldo Baca, Director, e-mail: rbaca @

      Karina Cabral, Project Specialist, e-mail:

      Dr. Michael Genzuk, Principal Investigator, e-mail: genzuk @

      USC Latino and Language Minority Teacher Projects Office

      Phone: (213) 740-2360

      FAX: (213) 740-7101

      In our attempt to provide information gained through the Latino and Language Minority Teacher Program effort we have instituted the National Clearinghouse for Paraeducator Resources. This NCFPR is committed to the charge of providing a comprehensive repository of information, as well as a forum to further the discussion, for achieving the goal of bringing talented paraeducators into the ranks of our nation's teaching force.

      Found on the pages of the NCFPR web effort are Full-text articles addressing the many aspects of the paraeducator experience, access to ERIC Abstracts of the literature available on the topic, numerous links accessing other Paraeducator to Teacher Career Ladder Programs and Additional Resouces on paraeducator matters.

      Please visit the National Clearinghouse for Paraeducator Resources by clicking on this link:


      Copyright © 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011
      by Michael Genzuk Ph.D. All rights reserved.