TUCSON, Ariz. — A total of $2.4-million is headed to the University of Arizona toward its Indigenous Teacher Education Program (ITEP). It will help bring more Native American teachers into schools that serve Native American students.
Sara Mae Williams is a junior in ITEP. Williams was a Political Science major before deciding to switch to early education. And ITEP, with its mission and program assistance, drew her in.
“I really thought, if I go to political science I’m going to have to pay x-amount of dollars. Now, if I look at the ITEP program, I’m still going to be able to get a degree, but I’m going to have all of this assistance on my side as well,” said Williams. And Williams says after a couple of classes, they knew this was the right decision; getting a degree while also being able to integrate their heritage and culture into molding younger minds.
With the new addition in funding, ITEP will be able to recruit more indigenous teacher candidates and prepare future teachers as “nation-builders” around the state.
“With the groups that have graduated before us, and with the group that I’m in, and the incoming cohorts, the great thing is that we’re building a family. And what we’re learning is so important that in the future when we become teachers, we’ll be able to access each other and that’s actually a great part of what that program provides,” said Williams.
The state is providing $1 million of the total funding that will support up to 17 community college students who plan to transfer to UA and join the program. The other $1.4 million, over the next five years, is from the federal government. It will cover tuition, educational and living expenses, and certification fees for up to 15 students; which will all be paid forward to the students these future teachers educate.
“We’re able to empower our kids when we teach them about it by using language and culture and embed our histories as a people into that curriculum as well or those lesson plans. So that’s really the benefit of what we’re being taught. It’s to use the information that’s around us and to not be afraid to talk about the past, but to use it to empower our kids for the future,” said Williams.
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