Partners in Education (PIE), a group of Cal Poly Pomona alumni serving as business and educational leaders in Southern California, recently presented this year’s PIE Fellowship recipients during the 13th Annual Sponsor a Future Teacher Awards Ceremony held on campus.
The PIE Fellowship Program provides $5,000 fellowships to assist students during their clinical practice experience, a very important component of the credential program. During clinical practice, students assume the role of a full-time classroom teacher for one semester to demonstrate the competencies required to become a K-12 teacher in California.
“The PIE board and its supporters strive to assist clinical practice students financially and professionally,” said Nick Salerno, PIE board member and lecturer in the College of Education and Integrative Studies. “The primary focus is to alleviate the financial burden on students, so they do not need to work during their clinical practice experience. The students are, in essence, working full-time as a teacher. They teach all day and are then responsible for lesson planning, grading papers and more. By adding work on top of that, it would become more difficult to devote full-time attention to these important teaching responsibilities that they are learning. PIE also supports students professionally through the ‘Ambassador’ mentoring program.”
Cindy E. Villegas-Hernandez, a PIE recipient, is a first-generation college student who graduated from the university with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish. She is working towards a multiple subject credential with bilingual authorization to teach elementary students from diverse backgrounds. Her decision to become a teacher is a result of her experience as a daughter of immigrant parents. She wanted to see a change after witnessing her parents struggle through the system with no assistance. She hopes to remove barriers to education and be a champion for her future students.
“I am incredibly grateful for the PIE Fellowship because it has lifted a financial burden from my shoulders and allowed me to focus on becoming a great teacher,” said Villegas-Hernandez. “Due to the financial support I have received from this fellowship, I have been able to attend staff meetings, parent-teacher conferences and other fun events at my school site. This has ultimately enabled me to focus on improving my teaching abilities as well as connect with staff members and students.”
Another PIE recipient, Alex Santos, is pursuing a single subject credential in social science and will complete the program later this year. He chose teaching as a result of shadowing his mother, a past president of the Parent Teacher Association. Her involvement in his education and key role in PTA allowed him to witness the passion and devotion that teachers have for their students.
“I am truly grateful for the financial relief that this scholarship will provide for me as I approach the final semester in the credential program,” said Santos. “The stress that is taken off my shoulders from this scholarship is something I will appreciate for the rest of my life. For a long time, I have known that I wanted to become a teacher. From my mom’s involvement at my elementary school’s PTA to the many K-12 teachers that provided me with the proper support to succeed, I have always felt most comfortable in a classroom. This scholarship allows me to get one step closer to my childhood dream of becoming a teacher.”
The full list of 2019 recipients include: Andy Aquino (single subject math), Richard Arguelles (single subject social science), Karla Ayala (single subject Spanish), Matt Bell (single subject math), Kelsie Boris (multiple subject), Greg Corona (single subject math), Ana Cortes-Lopez (single subject social science), Steven Frazer (single subject physical education), Daniel Joline (single subject social science), Emma Osimowicz (multiple subject), Katrina Poniente (single subject science), Alex Santos (single subject social science) and Cindy E. Villegas-Hernandez (multiple subject).
The PIE Fellowship Program accepts new applications annually in August. A selection committee reviews each candidate based on their GPA, progress in the credential program, community involvement and passion for teaching. Following a panel interview, students are selected and recognized at the annual Sponsor a Future Teacher Awards Ceremony in February.
For more information about PIE or how to donate, visit https://www.cpp.edu/~ceis/partners-in-education/index.shtml.