November 20, 2002 — Nearly $1 million in federal money has been awarded to the University of Utah to be used to train Native American or Alaskan Native American students to become teachers. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Indian Education earmarked the $945,887 Title VII money for preparing undergraduate students to become instructors-especially in the disciplines of math, science and reading.
Bryan McKinley Brayboy, assistant professor in the Department of Education, Culture & Society and author of the grant, notes that the money will allow scholarship recipients to focus solely on their studies without worrying about financial constraints.
There is a strong regional emphasis to attract students to the program, notes Brayboy, who also teaches in the U’s Ethnic Studies Program. “Our focus is to draw from the five tribes in Utah-from the Utes, Navajos, Goshutes, Piutes and Western Shoshones. But recipients don’t necessarily need to be from Utah or from one of these tribes. They can be from other tribes as well. The idea is that all of the students-no matter what their tribe-will go back to their home communities and teach,” he says.
Last fall Native American and Alaskan Native American students comprised 0.6 percent of the student body at the University.
Twelve scholarship recipients will have the opportunity to teach in schools that serve American Indian and/or Alaskan Native American populations. Upon completion of the University of Utah American Indian Teacher Preparation Program, participants will be required to work in these communities for at least three years-or for as long as they received training. “If they don’t, they will be required to repay the money used to train them to the federal government,” Brayboy says.
To be eligible to apply for the program, undergraduate students must be Native American or Alaskan Native American; have completed liberal education requirements; and be ready to enter the teacher education program. Applications are due to Dr. John Settlage, in the University’s Teaching and Learning Department, 142 Milton Bennion Hall, by Feb. 15, 2003. The program will commence summer term 2003. Brayboy is the principal investigator on the project, and Nola Lodge-Herford is the project director. Lodge-Herford is a clinical professor of Education, Culture & Society, in the Ethnic Studies Program, and directs the American Indian Resource Center at the University.
During the first two years of the three-year program students will work as pre-service teachers and will receive training through the Department of Teaching and Learning. During the third, induction year, these students will, according to Brayboy, “go out into the field to teach where they will have cultural and professional mentors who will guide them in the field of teaching.
“The children in Native American communities need the most help in reading, math and science. Our program is oriented to address this need by training teachers in these areas,” Brayboy says.
The U’s American Indian Teacher Preparation Program Scholarship includes a book allowance, health insurance coverage, use of a laptop computer, reimbursement of relocation expenses up to $1,000 and a $1,750 monthly stipend to be used for living expenses.
“The beautiful thing about receiving this money is that we get an opportunity to try some innovative programs; programs that won’t just meet the needs of these 12 students, but that will influence the programming aspects of the Teacher Preparation Program in Teaching and Learning and in Education, Culture & Society,” says Brayboy, adding that the new program will expose other students in the Teacher Preparation class to different perspectives and cultural issues in the field of education.
For more information on the University of Utah American Indian Teacher Preparation Program, call 801-587-7802 or 801-587-7811.