May 16, 2011Vol. 41, Issue 6

New Grant Supports Future Rural Teachers

Co-directors Al Schademan, Education, and Maria Moreno, director, Upward Bound, (see photo at left) were recently awarded the grant to find students from at-risk populations—which can mean first-generation college students, low-income students, or students from ethnic minorities—and support them in pursuing higher education and, eventually, a teaching credential.

The program goes to the heart of certain kinds of student failure in rural and low-income schools by recruiting future teachers who come from local communities and share similar socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds with students. These recruits will be supported in ways that help them sidestep many of the roadblocks to college success: lack of a peer group, lack of college preparation, financial pressures, and the need for academic counseling.

The Chico program is based on urban CalGrip programs begun by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The first one started at L.A. Harbor College and CSU, Dominguez Hills four years ago. The program has been replicated in various urban areas in the state, and the Governor’s Office wanted to see it implemented in a rural area. The goal is to diversify the teacher workforce statewide and ultimately provide a national model. That means that successful models need to be developed in urban, suburban, and rural areas.

This June, the first 30 recruits will enter a summer bridge program at Butte College, where they will take intensive remediation courses in English and math, areas that students who haven’t been on a college track most often need help with. They will stay with their cohort throughout the two years of the program, taking classes together and receiving assistance from a full-time support person who can help them navigate the educational system, connect them to services, and help them remove barriers on a daily basis.

After two years at Butte, the recruits will have earned 60 transferrable units and will enter CSU, Chico. The plan is that in two more years, they will graduate and enter the teaching credential program.

An important facet of the program is employment of the students in after-school programs in local school districts. The employment will not only provide some income, it will also give them experience with children in teaching situations.

Students in the program will receive mileage cards so that if they live in one city and their job is located in another city, they can afford the gas. Moreno said that they are in the process of developing a partnership with schools in the area so that students might have their after-school job assignment in the towns where they live.

Each student will receive a laptop computer, purchased from Computers for Classrooms, with updated software and Internet access.

Moreno and Schademan bring different areas of expertise to the project. Moreno was born in Gridley, knows the community, and has many years of success working with the Upward Bound program. Schademan has expertise in educational research and in STEM-related (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) teaching fields.

The co-directors have begun talking with counselors at area schools and alternative high schools. They already have the names of some students who have expressed an interest in education. They are pleased to have found an experienced and enthusiastic student support specialist, Esmeralda Campos. Campos, who has extensive experience working with first-generation, low-income youth, will begin work on May 16.

“We are excited about providing this opportunity to first-generation youth in Butte County who are interested in becoming teachers,” said Schademan. ”Our hope is that the support systems provided by the grant will ensure student success and completion of their degrees, thus contributing to the diversification of the teacher workforce in Northern California.”

—Kathleen McPartland, Public Affairs and Publications