Sept. 6, 2007 – It was announced today that the University of Utah’s American Indian Teacher Training Program (AITTP) has been awarded two grants from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Indian Education totaling more than $2 million over four years. Grant funds will be used to continue the university’s successful teacher preparation program within the College of Education. One grant, totaling $1,062,385, will prepare teacher candidates in the areas of math and science. The other grant, a total of $983,704, will enable teacher aides to train to become certified teachers. Both grants focus on preparing American Indian or Alaska Native students to become teachers. AITTP staff and the Department of Teaching and Learning in the College of Education are now actively recruiting students for the 2007 – 2008 school year.
In the last three years, the American Indian Teacher Training Program at the University of Utah has successfully graduated three student cohorts, a total of 30 students, who have returned to their American Indian communities to teach or serve as counselors in the schools. Currently 11 more AITTP students are on track to graduate in the spring of 2008.
According to Gwendolyn Spotted Elk Mudrow, principal investigator for the grants, “Statistics reveal that K- 12 schools are currently failing to adequately teach American Indian students in math and science. One of the new grants will prepare American Indian students to teach these subjects. These teachers will then return to schools in their own communities.” Mary Burbank, U of U Director of Secondary Education, is co-principal investigator for this new program and will be working closely with AITTP staff and students on campus to ensure the program’s success.
Davina Spotted Elk, Project Director for the new AITTP Aide to Teacher Cohort, relates that there are many American Indians who have worked in the schools in their communities. “The new AITTP Aide to Teacher grant will provide aides (paraeducators) in schools the opportunity to become teachers. The Aide to Teacher Cohort is a distance education program that will prepare teacher candidates to earn an undergraduate degree with a teaching license while remaining at home in their communities.” Clifford Drew, Associate Dean, will coordinate the distance program through the College of Education and Kathy Christiansen, College of Education Director of Grants, will oversee the budget operations for both projects. U of U Dean of Education, Michael Hardman, states that, “The College of Education is fully committed to, and excited about, these new programs. We look forward to collaborating with the U.S. Office of Indian Education to ensure AITTP’s legacy of success.”
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Indian Education stipulates that the Title VII grant money be used to prepare undergraduate students to become instructors, especially in the disciplines of math, science and reading. The AITTP training grants include tuition, book allowance, use of a laptop computer, a monthly stipend to be used for living expenses and more. Upon completion of AITTP, participants will be required to give what the government calls “a service payback” in one of the American Indian or Alaska Native communities for at least two years. The U of U AITTP draws from the five tribes in Utah – Ute, Navajo, Goshute, Paiute and Western Shoshone. However, recipients do not necessarily need to be from Utah or from one of these tribes.
According to U.S. Department of Education guidelines, applicants to the AITTP must be American Indian or Alaska Native. To apply, please contact Gwendolyn Spotted Elk Mudrow, 801-581-5177, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Davina Spotted Elk, 581-4976, email@example.com. Applications for admissions are now being accepted to the two programs.