The Cal Poly Department of Education has received the approval for a U.S. Department of Education grant that will bring in teaching candidates to join their residency program.
The grant is worth $2.1 million that will serve as a way to bring in the best possible students to teach bilingual students and special education.
Cal Poly Special Education Professor, Leah Wood, said, “We need more special education teachers and bilingual educators all over.”
Cal Poly Professor of Bilingual Education, Briana Ronan, said, “We’re hoping to have future teachers coming from the local communities who want to give back to their communities and really support the students in their schools.”
Cal Poly Assistant Professor, Dr. Tina Cheuk, said, “We’re really at the pinnacle of trying to ensure that our students in our districts locally have the best educational opportunity outcomes.”
The approved grant allows Cal Poly to partner with multiple school districts, giving some of the best student teachers a chance to remain committed to their communities.
Wood said, “We are working specifically with Lucia Mar, Santa Maria Bonita and the Santa Maria Joint High School districts. What we want to do is help prepare teachers that are going to be able to work in these districts for years to come.”
Santa Maria Bonita’s Shelli Hart oversees special assignments for teacher development and says this grant will help shape the future of the school district.
Hart said, “People in our system are getting this grant and are able to come back and work and get paid for it which is amazing. Getting your teaching degree is extremely difficult, student teaching is basically a full-time job and then you have to have a job to pay for life.”
After getting her Bachelor of Arts at Santa Clara University, Gloria Sevilla will begin her time as a teaching candidate at Cal Poly in the fall to get her teaching credential.
Sevilla says receiving the $27,000 stipend the program is offering will go a long way.
Sevilla said, “Being able to have this grant allows us to put more effort and time into studying and not having to worry about affording rent, food and transportation.”
The goal of the program is to properly equip teachers in the bilingual and special education paths, while making the credentialing process more manageable to overcome.
Ronan adds, “We’re always looking to grow our teaching candidates in terms of their abilities to communicate and support emergent bilinguals. These are students that are learning English as a second language in schools.”
Cheuk said, “We’re trying to recruit the next generation so they can educate the students, that they can leverage the languages they have in their communities.”
A cohort of 10 students has already been accepted for the Fall of 2021.
The expectation is that the number of students brought into the program will increase every year.
Over the next four years there will be 44 residents expected to come through the program.
For more information on what the new Cal Poly residency program offers, visit their website.