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Teach Arizona To Train Some Of The Nation's Top Students Of Color

 

The UA is one of fewer than 30 institutions in the nation selected to accept students who have been designated scholars by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.

The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation named the UA'sCollege of Education one among a 27 institutions able to accept students in its Woodrow Wilson-Rockefeller Brothers Fund Fellowships for Aspiring Teachers of Color program.

The UA college's Teach Arizona program, which encompasses all secondary programs within the college, will begin taking WW-RBF Fellowship students during the 2011-2012 academic year. 

"We are in an elite group with respect to this teacher preparation program," said Ronald W. Marx, the UA's College of Education dean.

Other institutions selected to accept students include Stanford University, New York University, the University of Washington and the University of California, Los Angeles. 

The foundation will select students for the scholarships, offering each $30,000 annually for their studies. Eligible students must commit to teaching math, science or a foreign language for three years in a high-needs middle or high school.

"These kinds of intellectually demanding and also practical and effective programs are important," Marx said.

"These programs are innovative at a time when a good portion of the American public believes there is no practical power to teacher education," he said, "and when there is a tendency to de-professionalize the teaching profession, which is utterly wrong."

In an award letter presented to the UA college, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation noted that being selected is "a mark of national recognition indicating the quality" of the program.

"We've gone through a very rigorous screening process. The foundation has been very critical of teacher education – underlined, capitalized and in bold," said Renée Clift, the education college's associate dean for professional programs.

"The fact that we were chosen is a very, very strong affirmation of the quality of Teach Arizona," Clift said. 

Additionally, the foundation also named the UA as one of 45 nominating institutions – a group that will be able to offer up names for potential scholars to the foundation.     

Others nominating institutions include Brown University, Duke University, Howard University, Princeton University, Spelman College, the University of Chicago, Williams College and Yale University.

"The Teach Arizona program was selected because of its strong field-based component," Clift said, noting that the cohort-model program accepts 60 students each year.

Teach Arizona students spent one year working directly with students and teachers in their classrooms, receiving extensive mentoring from education facutly and also field-based teachers. 

"There are not a lot of programs like this in the country," Clift said, noting that students are able, then, to gain a particular knowledge of the inner workings of schools, becoming familiar with classroom and school cultures. "It's an amazing program."

"Teach Arizona offers a remarkable opportunity and does remarkable things," Marx said, "one of which is to get people with maturity and experience into the classroom."

Traditionally, the program served to help working professionals who had an interest in teaching to earn their certification.

While the program continues to aid professionals seeking to make that transition, it also educates newly graduated  students.

"I am really excited that the UA has been selected as having a high quality program. It will bring to us students who might not have come otherwise," said Patty Stowers, who co-directs the college's fast-track master's program.

In speaking about the need for more certified teachers who are of color, Stowers recounted the demand through a recent experience.

"We feel our program is designed in a way that works well with our students," Stowers said. "It's a tight cohort of students, and they have the opportunity to be placed in all of the districts around the city of Tucson, which includes high-needs and culturally diverse schools."

Stowers recently interviewed a student who identified as American Indian and Mexican American after he applied for the Teach Arizona program. 

The man told Stowers that in all his years growing up in public schools, he had never encountered a teacher who shared his cultural background.

Yet certain education researchers have advanced the idea that students of color glean tremendous social and psychological benefit from seeing and being taught by educators who do share their backgrounds. 

"That is part of the reason why he wants to be a teacher today," said Stowers, also a clinical assistant professor in the UA's teaching and teacher education program. 

"What I'm most excited about is that, with this fellowship, we''ll have an opportunity to attract even more high quality applicants who reflect the diversity of our students in our public schools," Stowers said. "We are very committed to growing the diversity of the program."

Contact Info

Patty Stowers

UA College of Education

520-621-7870 

pstowers@email.arizona.edu

 



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