UA program for Indigenous teachers gets $2.4M in state, federal grants
The Indigenous Teacher Education Program at the University of Arizona has received $2.4 million in state and federal grants to support its mission of increasing the number of Native American teachers.
Last year, Natives made up 2% of the state's educators, according to a July 2021 report from the Arizona Department of Education.
Part of this funding will go toward financially support the program’s teaching candidates beyond just tuition and fee to remove those barriers to higher education.
“We cover living stipend, dependent support, books, travel to the school sites that they’re doing their field experience and we provide a laptop for them," said Valerie Shirley, one of the program's founding co-directors. She identifies as Diné.
The program also focuses on preparing Native American teachers to work in schools that serve Indigenous students and their communities. One of the ways it does this is by training its teacher candidates how to develop a curriculum that includes Indigenous philosophies, values, languages and knowledge systems.
“I think what we are doing we’re really trying to create a movement where we’re indigenizing the process of teaching," Shirley said.
In addition, Shirley said the program’s teacher candidates should also be aware of the challenges their communities face so they can help their future students examine and address them.
ITEP is currently teacher candidates for its fall 2022 cohort and holding informational session later this month.