December 17, 2018

New residential program aims to prepare 'transformative' teachers

student teacher
Craig Chandler | University Communication

Craig Chandler | University Communication
Student teacher Sarah Al-shdifat works with a student at Goodrich Middle School in Lincoln in April 2016.

A selective new academy for aspiring teachers will allow up to 40 education students to live and learn together at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, with graduates positioned to become teaching innovators for the 21st century.

It is one of three academies to be established at three institutions in the University of Nebraska system. The academies are funded through a gift from the William and Ruth Scott Family Foundation.

“Establishing the Teachers Scholars Academy is yet another example of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s significant contributions to the teacher corps in the state and beyond,” Chancellor Ronnie Green said. “Nebraska took a major step toward professionalizing its educators when the former Teachers College was established here in 1908. As the university celebrates its 150th anniversary, it is both exciting and gratifying to launch a new teacher education initiative to meet the changing needs of coming generations.

“I want to express my sincere thanks to the William and Ruth Scott Family Foundation for making this academy possible.”

To launch in fall 2019, the Teachers Scholars Academy at Nebraska is open to incoming first-year students who have chosen early education, elementary or secondary education majors in an array of programs. Students selected for the program will receive four-year scholarships to cover up to 30 credit hours per academic year and up to $8,000 toward the cost of housing, meals, books and fees.

“Our program aim is to prepare the teachers who will be the backbone of school transformation, reflective thinkers who will continue to grow and develop beyond their degree,” said Beth Doll, interim dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences. “We intend that teachers who emerge from the academy will be engaged in ways that reduce premature exits from the teaching profession.”

student teacher
Craig Chandler | University Communication
Student teacher Brenden Trout works with fifth-graders at Elliott Elementary in Lincoln in February.

Guy Trainin, director of the new program, said it will leverage the strengths of the state’s leading public research institution to educate teachers with the ability to help all children acquire the skills needed to thrive in the information economy.

“This is a chance to do something different,” he said. “We have school models that were developed in the 19th and 20th centuries trying to prepare the students of the future. New teachers who want to be part of solving this problem will need to be adept in research, innovation and community involvement.”

First-year students participating in the Teachers Scholars Academy will have the opportunity to live together on a single floor in the Abel Residence Hall. Participating students will receive mentoring and specialized student support, participate in service learning and research projects, engage in cutting-edge teaching activities and gain meaningful experience in Nebraska schools and communities.

The residential component is critical, Trainin said, because the program will be challenging, academically and personally.

“It’s going to take grit — this program is going to be more challenging than ordinary teacher education,” he said. “Nevertheless, academy students will live and study in a supportive community with a diverse, dynamic and vibrant group of peers. Those one-to-one connections will not only fuel creative collisions and new ideas, they will provide a bedrock of support as each student discovers and stretches their strengths.”

The deadline for applications is Feb. 1, with members of the first cohort to be announced in March.

Learn more about the Teachers Scholars Academy.

student teacher
Craig Chandler | University Communication
Student teacher Cassidy Daly gives a DNA demonstration during biology at Lincoln Northeast High School in February.