On top of her full-time student teaching responsibilities and college coursework, Emily Bonn was also considering a night job. A few months ago, the teacher credential student had stopped working full time so she could focus on the classroom.
“It was scary because I knew I was going to lose so much of my income. It was rough,” she says. She applied and received the Partners in Education (PIE) scholarship, which allowed her to take her mind off the bills and concentrate on her teaching.
“Now that I have this scholarship, I come home, I do my lesson planning and I do my homework for my classes. The next day, I can get up and be refreshed and put into the classroom what I need to.”
Bonn’s story was echoed several times at the fourth annual Sponsor a Future Teacher Scholarship Awards Dinner on Feb. 24 hosted by PIE, a university and community partnership dedicated to supporting excellence in education. Cal Poly Pomona awarded 16 scholarships worth $5,000 each to teacher credential students who demonstrate a passion for teaching, love for learning and financial need.
Betty Ortiz, vice chair of PIE, said the scholarships give the gift of time. “We want you to have time to spend with veteran teachers or those who have been teaching for a long time. We want you to attend different meetings and not rush off to work,” she says. “When you’re trying to teach and learn to be a teacher and you have to go to a job at night, it’s tough. That’s why these scholarships are so important.”
This year, PIE awarded 12 additional scholarships for those pursuing a math or science credential, thanks to an $80,000 grant to the College of Science from the CSU Chancellor’s Math and Science Teacher Initiative. The initiative is a direct response to the projected need for 33,000 new math and science teachers in California in the next decade. The CSU aims to produce 1,500 teachers credentialed in math and science annually starting this year.
When he graduates in June, Garrett Larsson will bring his real-world experience to high school math students. For several years, he worked in construction and construction management before making the switch to education.
“I realized that what I was doing wasn’t the most satisfying job in the world and that I needed to make a change if I wanted to be happy with my career,” he says. “Substitute teaching has been a great experience, and student teaching has been an even more rewarding experience. I can’t wait to get out there and get my own full-year class.”
Sue Johnson, PIE chairwoman, says it’s encouraging that so many future teachers want to teach math and science at the middle and high school level.
“I’m so impressed with the quality and the passion and the excitement of these students. They’re so enthusiastic and excited about teaching,” says Johnson, who serves as the superintendent of the Savanna School District in Orange County. “We need this excitement and enthusiasm in our schools. That was the whole purpose for starting scholarship program in the first place.”