Teachers are the single most important in-school factor for student success. Texas is on the precipice of a teacher shortage as its student body of 5.4 million diverse learners continues to grow. New teachers are often ill-prepared for the classroom, and others suffer from a lack of inspiration and don’t feel respected for their work. The Charles Butt Scholarship for Aspiring Teachers is seeking to change that.
The first-of-its-kind college scholarship for students studying to become public school teachers brings enthusiasm and optimism back to the teaching career. Raquel Pérez is one of these scholars.
Raquel's story is one of perseverance, determination, and success that wasn't supposed to happen. Growing up as a migrant farmer, child of immigrants, and English Language Learner, Raquel had to beat the odds to graduate high school, complete college, and begin a career. Raquel's family and their core values of love, respect, and hard work gave Raquel the motivation to succeed. Raquel was especially influenced by her father who never missed a day of farming work in 28 years -- that is, until he surprised Raquel at her graduation as part of our video story featured here.
Raquel is an inspiration to any farmworker, student, or dreamer, and she is the future of Texas teaching.
Showcasing Raquel's personal story was our way of connecting a face to the teaching profession, with the goal of inspiring more Texas students to consider teaching and apply for the scholarship.
In addition to the scholarship, our Raising Texas Teachers initiative is collaborating with state and national partners to improve teacher preparation programs from the inside out. We are also launching a multi-year marketing campaign to elevate the teaching profession among the general public, prospective students, and their families. Our collection of scholar profiles are part of the foundational content of this long-term campaign.
The primary reach for the Raising Texas Teachers campaign is Texas educators, many of whom work with our organization on programmatic and advocacy efforts. For this story, we focused on the public K-12 and higher education sectors. Since the story was released a few weeks prior to the 2019 Texas Legislative Session, we also targeted state legislators in certain geographic regions. Our goals were to promote the launch of the new scholarship, leverage the program investment in our advocacy efforts at the legislature, and expand our organization's base among new viewers, primarily college-aged Texans.
We launched Raquel's story as the first in our Spotlight on a Charles Butt Scholar series in late 2018. We followed up with Part II of Raquel’s story when she graduated in May 2019. Both stories feature a multimedia webpage, posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and inclusion in our email newsletter. For Twitter, we created a shorter teaser video to stay within Twitter’s required video length. We used the hashtag #RaisingTexasTeachers from our campaign and #TxEd, the umbrella hashtag for Texas public education content.
We are a small nonprofit with a limited promotion budget, but we did spend modestly on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to boost our posts among Texans.
In the last year, Raquel’s story brought more eyes and awareness to our brand than any other piece of content. More specifically, it created greater awareness for our scholarship, initiated our campaign to elevate the status of teaching, and generated enthusiasm among state legislators, educators, and the general public in South Texas.
The story and related campaign contributed to an increase in nearly 25 percent in applications from 2018 to 2019 and resulted in our highest social media engagement of the year:
The story page on our website received the most pageviews for any page besides our homepage.
It also resonated with users who had similar experiences or who were inspired by Raquel’s hard work and determination:
“All our family worked in the fields all throughout attending school. Everyday after school, weekends and summers. Three of us children became educators… Congratulations Raquel, we too are the Perez family. Good luck.”
“This is why I do what I do ... Get your tissue box ready.” #UTRGV #FirstGeneration #Educationistheequalizer #GETITGIRL