For as long as she can remember, multiple-subject credential student Samantha Valadez has wanted to be a teacher. She’s worked hard to make that dream become a reality, earning a liberal studies degree from Cal Poly Pomona and working in the university’s Center for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. But having to juggle living expenses while focusing on her unpaid student-teaching experience was going to be a challenge.
Valadez applied for and received the Partners in Education (PIE) fellowship, which will help her fully enjoy her time working in the classroom.
“It allows me to throw myself into it 110 percent,” she said. “I want to be able to take everything in, and the fellowships will help me do that.”
At the ninth annual Sponsor a Future Teacher Fellowship Awards Dinner on Feb. 12, PIE awarded Valadez and 14 other outstanding students fellowships worth $5,000 each. The fellowship helps the recipients with financial support during the clinical practice phase of the credential program. Although many of the students receive financial aid, only some are able to complete the program as a full-time student. The fellowship eases the stress of working a full or part-time job and continuing to pay bills.
Four of the awarded fellowships were made possible by the Felzer family, PIE’s sponsor of distinction. The family has sponsored 20 fellowships over a five-year period in honor of the late Alan Felzer, professor emeritus of electrical and computer engineering. The remaining fellowships are provided through the fundraising efforts of the PIE board.
In addition to the fellowships, PIE provides mentoring for credential students embarking on their student teaching career. PIE board members visit mentees’ classrooms and offer professional support in the job search.
At the awards dinner held at the Restaurant at Kellogg Ranch, PIE chairwoman and Savanna School District Superintendent Sue Johnson told the fellowship recipients that their passion for the classroom is exceptional, and to use it to help their students grow and succeed.
“You are here tonight to impact the lives of students in the future,” she said. “Your influence is priceless in the life of a student.”
PIE is a group of Cal Poly Pomona community members who are committed to supporting excellence in the preparation of future teachers. Since 2007, PIE has aided 113 teacher candidates.