CSU, Chico News

Rural Teacher Pathway Program Aims to Increase Number of Teachers for At-Risk Populations

Date: 04-29-2011

Kathleen McPartland
Public Affairs
Al Schademan
Department of Education

The Chico Rural Teacher Pathway at California State University, Chico recently funded for $500,000 by CalGrip (California Gang Reduction, Intervention and Prevention), is a two-year program designed to recruit 30 high school seniors each year who may have the desire, but perhaps not the means, to become credentialed schoolteachers. The students will be recruited from regional populations where students are least likely to receive higher education degrees or teaching certificates.

Co-directors Al Schademan, professor in the Department of Education, California State University, Chico, and Maria Moreno, director of Upward Bound, 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 to 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-come schools by recruiting future teachers who come from local communities and share similar socio-economic and cultural experiences. These students 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 in 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 students 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 students 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 but will give them much-needed 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 and Math) teaching fields.

The two 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, and they are looking forward to bringing a student support specialist on board soon to help with recruitment.

This grant is administered and supported by the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, CSU, Chico. The nonprofit CSU, Chico Research Foundation, incorporated in 1997 as an auxiliary to the University, manages more than 600 grant and contract accounts each year, many staffed by student and faculty researchers.