(Tahlequah, Okla.)--In an effort to train and retain educators in high-need subject areas, Northeastern State University is participating in two programs which allow teaching candidates to apply for grants or reimbursements.
The federal Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education grant program and Oklahoma’s Teacher Shortage Employment Incentive Program provide assistance for students who agree to teach certain subjects for a predetermined number of years.
“I was in a situation where I was taking two classes a semester because that was all I could afford,” said Nila Bennett, a senior at NSU-Broken Arrow from Sapulpa. “I was visiting the financial aid office and they said I should be a perfect candidate for the TEACH grant. The assistance allowed me to take more courses per semester and now I will graduate this December.”
As a special education major, Bennett wants to enter a field which the U.S. Department of Education has identified as high-need. She is serving her internship at Glenpool High School.
“The teachers I’ve worked with are phenomenal, but class sizes are getting larger,” she said. “From my observations, even as a substitute and tutor, I see students who need that extra assistance. If you can just tap into their skills for learning, you will find a volume of information that overflows. The looks on their faces when they catch on to something just puts me in the clouds.”
The TEACH program provides grants of up to $4,000 per year to undergraduate students who intend to teach in a public or private elementary or secondary school that serves students from low-income families.
Schools serving low-income students include any elementary or secondary school listed in the Department of Education’s Annual Directory of Designated Low-Income Schools for Teacher Cancellation Benefits.
Those receiving a TEACH grant must agree to serve as a full-time teacher in a high-need field. TEACH-eligible education majors are math, science, Cherokee, Spanish and special education. Eligible graduate education programs are math, science and reading.
Recipients must teach the subject for which the grant was awarded for a minimum of four academic years. The commitment must be completed within eight calendar years of completion of study.
“If not for the TEACH grant it might have taken me another five years to graduate,” Bennett said. “I’m really anxious to get out there and start teaching.”
Dr. April Adams, chair of NSU’s online master of science education program, said TEACH grants and TSEIP bonuses are mutually beneficial to students and the university.
“A lot of our students need financial assistance," she said. "From the institution’s perspective, it aids recruitment to our teacher education programs and aids retention.”
The TSEIP program is a legislative mandate administered by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education. TSEIP is designed to recruit and retain math and science teachers in Oklahoma. Successful candidates are reimbursed eligible student loan expenses or an equivalent cash benefit upon fulfillment of requirements.
A recipient must complete an approved professional teacher education program from an Oklahoma-accredited teacher education unit and hold a valid certificate to teach math or science at the secondary level. To receive reimbursement, the recipient must teach for five consecutive years at public secondary schools in Oklahoma. Application must be made before the student graduates with a four-year degree.
“One attractive facet of the TSEIP is that the obligation carries no financial burden for the student,” Adams said. “If the teaching requirement goes unfulfilled, the applicant simply doesn’t receive the money.”
Bennett said her educational experience at NSU has been “outstanding.”
“I’ve learned so much from my professors and I couldn’t ask for a better school,” she said. “I’ve attended four different colleges, and NSU has done more to help me understand what I need to know and how to work with any student population. When you have a question or need help, the faculty and staff are always there or get back to you quickly. I’ve not just learned teaching skills, but learned to think like an educator.”
For more information or to apply for the TEACH grant call the NSU Office of Student Financial Services at (918) 444-3456. Information about the TSEIP program is available from the College of Education at (918) 444-3700.
Published: 10/24/2011 2:53:53 PM