New UA scholarship lowers the barriers for aspiring educators
The barriers to the education of aspiring teachers just got a bit lower. The University of Alaska (UA) is launching a scholarship program to mitigate the costs that students acquire during their mandatory unpaid full-time internship or their year of student teaching, a vital part of their preparations to make a difference in our state’s classrooms.
The program is called UA Teacher Internship Scholarship and its recipients will receive coverage for their tuition, fees, and a $10,000 stipend to offset living expenses. This is part of an effort to support local schools. In the University’s press release, Amy Vinlove, Dean of UAF School of Education, explained: “Addressing the affordability barrier to high-quality teacher preparation allows all districts and all schools access to well-prepared teachers and increases the diversity of candidates entering the teaching profession”. This commitment to diversity is aimed at making sure that the teaching staff reflects its community. Vinlove further commented to Sol de Medianoche: “This scholarship opportunity prioritizes getting a workforce that mirrors the demographics of Alaska’s P-12 school population by prioritizing awards for the following groups: Alaskan residents, students completing internships in predominantly indigenous schools and districts, and students who have completed a degree at the University of Alaska.” The program’s $1 million investment joins other diversity initiatives like the school’s work with Alaska Indigenous Teacher Corps work and their efforts related to Sustaining Indigenous and Local Knowledge, Arts, and Teaching.
Participating in their full-time internship is an essential part of students’ preparations at the University of Alaska. According to the University’s press release, students “begin their teaching careers having completed a full year in the classroom under the guidance of a qualified mentor teacher.” This enables them to build their skills and put into practice what they have learned through their coursework. In addition, there’s data supporting the benefits of this practice. According to the National Council on Teacher Quality, first-year teachers can be as effective as typical third-year teachers after going through a year of student teaching. This new program is available in all three schools of education of the University of Alaska and is available for both graduate and undergraduate students. However, undergraduate students are required to be in their final two years of the program. The deadline for priority consideration is April 15, 2023, with awards to be announced in early May and the program is expected to award up to 30 student teachers for the next year.
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