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Grant to help ASU place more quality teachers in rural communities


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  • Sara Korn/Arizona State University

ITeach Gila

A new initiative will give community-college students in rural areas access to ASU’s high-quality teacher-preparation programs without leaving their home communities.

The Gila Valley iTeachAZ program, a collaborative initiative between Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College and Eastern Arizona College, also allows students at that community college to finish their degree at ASU at a reduced rate.

Grant to help ASU place more quality teachers in rural communities major-in-excellence-thatcher

The Gila Valley iTeachAZ site, a collaboration between ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College and Eastern Arizona College, has recently been awarded $450,000 in grant funding to help widen access to high-quality teacher-preparation programs.

The initiative recently has been awarded $450,000 in grant funding from the Freeport-McMoRan Foundation.

“Rural communities have long said they need high-quality teachers,” said Mari Koerner, dean of Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. “Through this unique partnership with the Freeport-McMoRan Foundation, we are able to rise to that challenge and train high-quality teachers to impact generations of families, all within the Gila Valley.”

The investment is part of a national collaborative called 100Kin10, a multi-sector effort to prepare, deploy and support 100,000 excellent STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) teachers in the United States over the next 10 years.

The new EAC-to-Teachers-College degree pathway is based on the proven iTeachAZ teacher-preparation program, as recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, The Arizona Republic and the National Council on Teacher Quality. Using a clinical model, students spend more time in the classroom and taking content coursework as they train to become teachers.

Nearly 1,200 Arizona principals surveyed rated Teachers College graduates above the state average on every indicator when asked to evaluate beginning teachers on several core teaching skills. Additionally, more than 80 percent of the college’s individual graduates met or exceeded expectations for new teachers on all indicators.

“We are thrilled to have ASU’s iTeachAZ program joining our community in the Gila Valley, and the Safford school district is looking forward to working with ASU and EAC in making this an outstanding program,” said Mark Tregaskes, superintendent of Safford Unified School District. “The incredible impact of high-quality teachers on our children cannot be overemphasized. … It’s a huge win to have this here.”

The grant money also will be used to equip classrooms of mentor teachers and teacher candidates with needed STEM supplies and to pursue innovative ways to recruit students into the teaching profession.

“Fostering opportunities for rural students to get a top-notch postsecondary degree in teaching and potentially fill teaching positions for science, math and other subjects in their home communities supports our goal to help build capacity and sustainability in the communities where we operate,” said Tracy Bame, president of the Freeport-McMoRan Foundation.

Freeport-McMoRan is a U.S.-based natural-resource company whose global portfolio of assets includes the large-scale Morenci and Safford minerals districts in and near the Gila Valley. In 2011, the company pledged $1.5 million over the next three years to support STEM teacher-development programs in Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico as part of an ongoing commitment to strengthen the communities where they operate. They selected the EAC-to-Teachers-College program based on the strength of Teachers College’s prestigious iTeachAZ teacher-preparation program, the existing track record in the Gila Valley and their mutual commitments as 100Kin10 partners.

For more information, please contact, Sara Korn at Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at sara.korn@asu.edu or 480-543-5595.