Next generation’s teachers

Five seniors win scholarships to study education at Rockford University

Aisha Hill, Reporter

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The RPS 205 school board is partnering up with Rockford University to help recruit teachers and create a workforce from its students. The program is finally underway and fully operational since being passed by the board in April 2016. The partnership is designed to attract RPS 205 students to the teaching profession specifically to be hired in to the district. The program begins in high school with an education pathway, where students interested may take classes that align with teacher education. The pathway includes a senior course for dual credit, taught by both Rockford University and RPS 205 staff.

“The HPS education pathway ends with Educational Psychology in which they learn about how kids learn, how best to teach them, and instructional strategies,” said Mr. Mason, who teaches the Educational Psychology class at Guilford. “They got to see all kinds of classroom styles and we went and read stories to elementary school kids.”

After taking this dual credit high school course, a scholarship is open to enroll at Rockford University for all RPS 205 high school seniors who meet admission criteria and are interested in teaching.

“The candidates RPS is really looking for to apply are students who want to stay in Rockford,” said Mr. Mason. “They want kids who want to make a difference within the district and see RPS improve.”

Students chosen receive close to a full four-year ride at Rockford University. Students are responsible for only five to ten thousand dollars per year. After graduating, students are placed with priority and among the strongest candidates when applying for a job in the district. After working for the district for one year, students have the opportunity to go back to Rockford University and get a Master’s Degree in urban education fully paid for if students agree to continue working for RPS 205 for a specific amount of time.

“I became aware of the program actually through my mom,” said Ryan Callahan, senior. “She teaches the child development course through here and spoke with Mr. Mason about it and knew I wanted to be a teacher so she thought I should take advantage of the opportunity. The application process wasn’t very much different from any other, we had to get three or more letters of recommendation, and then write an essay on why we wanted to be teachers and how we thought we could make a difference.”

Twenty students every year will be awarded the scholarship and while attending Rockford University will be able to work with RPS for summer school or extracurricular activities to help pay tuition and gain experience.

“This is really an excellent opportunity for students who are interested in teaching,” said Mr. Mason. “They got a lot of experience that I didn’t get until my junior year of college. This could be a positive or negative. With this pathway and these courses available, a student can really decide whether this profession is for them or not.”

This partnership is a long-term commitment from the district, Rockford University, and students. However the opportunity to receive both an undergraduate and graduate education, a $140,000 dollar value at a cost of $20,000, is a strong basis for students to stay in Rockford and make a difference within the community.

“I think financially a lot of people are turned away by the idea of teaching because you invest so much money towards the education to get out and make very little, but this program really shows them that it’s a career you can really have and not be in debt from,” said Callahan. “I’d like to come back to Guilford and help students out. I really see the areas that need development and improvement. School has really shaped my life. It’s always been there and it’s something that I want to always be here.”

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Next generation’s teachers