CAST Schools » CAST Schools » CAST Launches Program to Retain and Support New Teachers with 000 Firstmark Foundation Grant
CAST Launches Program to Retain and Support New Teachers with $40000 Firstmark Foundation Grant
Firstmark Foundation and CAST Schools Network


New Teacher Celebration Recognizes Future Teachers and their Mentors from CAST Schools

SAN ANTONIO, TX (April 4, 2023) – The Firstmark Foundation has awarded CAST Schools a grant of $40,000 that will be used to further develop teacher attraction and retention programming and materials to promote an innovative teacher residency program with Texas A&M University-San Antonio. This is the second grant Firstmark Foundation has awarded CAST Schools since the foundation was established in 2021. New teachers and their mentors will be on hand to celebrate the program’s launch in an evening celebration in their honor on April 4.

Current teachers in the residency program with Texas A&M University-San Antonio

“Attracting, retaining and supporting teachers is essential to having a successful school,” said CAST Schools Executive Director Jeanne Russell. “The first few years of teaching are the make-or-break period for new teachers. We are committed to encouraging teachers as they enter the field, and making their experience a positive and joyful one so that they stay.”

Firstmark Foundation funds will help measure the costs and benefits of CAST’s unique teacher attraction and retention programming, and also support collaborative materials to attract additional teachers into CAST’s teacher residency program with Texas A&M-San Antonio. The goal is to create a financial tool for universities and other stakeholders to use in calculating the costs of more supportive residency programs, while also identifying sustainable federal, state and local funding streams to make these programs financially feasible.

This is the second grant awarded to CAST Schools by the Firstmark Foundation. It presented its inaugural grant of $80,000 to CAST Teach in 2021 to construct an innovative model classroom and a professional resource library that will be a showcase for future educators and support the city’s first school dedicated to a homegrown talent source of educators.

Principles in the CAST Schools Network

“We are honored and privileged to partner with CAST Schools on our collective mission to provide teachers the stream of resources they need for a positive experience at the early stages of their careers. The program’s goal to create sustainability within the education system and overall support of teachers is something to truly marvel at, and we’re excited to witness it all come to fruition,” said Marisa Pérez-Díaz, Firstmark Foundation Executive Director.

CAST backs a residency model because it has been found to create a supportive learning experience for future teachers. A&M-SA has placed clinical teachers at CAST schools for a year-long rather than a semester-long residency, with many students spending two full years embedded at the campus prior to becoming teachers. CAST has hired a number of clinical teachers creating a grow-your-own initiative within their schools.

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ABOUT THE CAST Schools Network

The Centers for Applied Science & Technology (CAST) is a San Antonio-based network of tuition-free, public schools with a mission to reinvent schooling in order to maximize options for students while preparing them for college, career, and life. Open to all Bexar County students, the network includes high schools CAST Tech, CAST Teach, CAST STEM, CAST Med, CAST Lead and the Advanced Learning Academy. Schools are co-created with industry, and partner with area public school districts, including Northside, San Antonio, Southwest, and East Central ISDs. For more information, visit Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

About the Firstmark Foundation

The FIRSTMARK FOUNDATION is a non-profit, public charity focused on making a tangible, positive impact in the education community through the collective giving of the membership. Firstmark Credit Union offers the Power of the Dollar® Checking that includes a $1 monthly impact fee that goes directly to the Firstmark Foundation. On behalf of the members of Firstmark, the Foundation will fund significant needs across our school districts, such as constructing new facilities, improving existing amenities, enhancing learning spaces, and providing education grants and student scholarships. Founded on the philosophy of people helping people, ten teachers made the best use of their resources, established a credit union to serve educators, and 90 years later, Firstmark continues to build upon their legacy, supporting the vital work of our schools.


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The Centers for Applied Science and Technology (CAST) Network is a tax-exempt organization as described in Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Service code. CAST Schools are partnership schools with a focus on STEM careers, project based learning and work-based learning. Key partners include public school districts, higher education institutions, and local employers from target industries.