For students like Andrea Diaz in academic credential programs, the path to becoming a teacher can seem perilous. After being laid off from her second job, Diaz was unsure how she was going to help take care of her young family, balance an unpaid student-teaching experience and pay for her education.
Cal Poly Pomona’s Partners in Education (PIE) program came to the rescue for Diaz and 14 other students. Its Sponsor a Future Teacher Awards provides $5,000 scholarships for credential students to complete their clinical practice. Although 90 percent of the candidates receive financial aid, only 50 percent complete the program as a full-time student. “If a student teacher doesn’t have to work, they can get the full benefits of student teaching,” says Peggy Kelly, dean of the College of Education & Integrative Studies.
At the awards dinner on Feb. 20, each of the 15 PIE scholarship recipients expressed gratitude to donors and talked about their passion for teaching. For these students, the scholarship is the difference between pursuing a career in the classroom and putting their dreams on hold.
“I could not have done it without the scholarship,” Diaz said. “Thank you for all of your support.”
After working as a math tutor and substitute teacher for 10 years, David Lee was inspired by his students to complete a teaching credential. Receiving a PIE scholarship has helped put him closer to becoming a high school math teacher. “Teaching is nothing less than a fine art,” Lee said. “I’m certainly trying to be a heck of an artist.”
Several of the scholarships were made possible by the Felzer family, which was honored at the awards dinner as a sponsor of distinction. Over a five-year period, 20 scholarships have been provided in honor of the late Alan Felzer, professor emeritus of electrical and computer engineering.
The scholarships are awarded to students who demonstrate dedication to community service and a commitment to education. “This group is at the top of the class,” PIE chairwoman Sue Johnson said. “They are going to make the magic of learning happen for our children.”
Since 2007, PIE has provided scholarships for 81 teacher candidates.
(Photo: 2013 Partners in Education Sponsor a Future Teacher Scholarship award winners)