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TRAINING & RETAINING UTAH TEACHING TALENT


Utah, a state with growing elementary-age populations, large class sizes and many rural communities, is short on teachers. Just as state leaders are recognizing that Utah's successful entry into the workforce is built on quality elementary and secondary education, too few teachers are prepared to teach science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields and too many teachers are leaving the classroom, often after only a few years on the job.

In response, and in addition to other programs in place to boost the teaching workforce, the Emma Eccles Jones Foundation has awarded the U's College of Education a $2.5 million grant to pilot a program called Teach for Utah. The program will recruit top talent from utah high schools, prepare them as master's-level STEM teachers and ensure those teachers build their early careers in Utah schools.

The program offers early mentoring, a cohort structure and course work as part of a customized and accelerated bachelors and master's degree program. The program structure not only identifies students, beginning at the high school level, but also increases the timeline for program completion and entry into classrooms and schools as licensed teachers.

The gift from the Emma Eccles Jones Foundation funds a five-year pilot of the Teach for Utah program with a possibility of extending and expanding the program.

  • The journey begins in a student's junior and senior years of high school. Teach for Utah will work with Utah high schools to identify promising students interested in careers in teaching and encourage them to apply in their senior year through a competitive selection process.
  • Up to 25 students will be accepted to the program per year, with a half-tuition scholarship. Students will need to come to the program having already earned some university academic credits, such as through concurrent enrollment or AP credits. 
  • With those credits in hand, students will follow what's called a 3+1 model to earn both a bachelor's and master's degree in four years.
  • Teach for Utah partners with the College of Science to allow students to study math, chemistry, biology or physics in addition to their teaching education through the College of Education. Near the end of the program, the students will complete an internship or student teaching experience in a Utah school district.
  • Program graduates will complete advanced studies through the Department of Educational Psychology in the College of Education.

Teach for Utah participants are expected to teach one year in Utah for each year of scholarship funding they received, ensuring that they'll start their career in-state.

To increase teacher retention, Teach for Utah will help build students' peer and mentor networks. While in the program, they'll plan and teach with their peers and will be mentored by experienced teachers in their internship or student teaching experience. After students graduate, they'll be part of a professional mentor network for their first two years of teaching, connecting with a community of beginning and veteran teachers.

Teach for Utah scholars will receive support at the preparation level and into the first two years of teaching. Course work, classroom and community experiences and ongoing professional development will reflect best practices through collaboration, mentoring and coaching.

Contact Teach for Utah at teach4utah@utah.edu.