The i2Teach program is funded by a three-year $300,000 grant from the APS Foundation, and targets adults who want to transition into teaching careers.
Those who meet the program criteria must commit to teaching full-time for two years in an Arizona public, private or charter school while also taking classes as a full-time student.
“Program participants will be placed into small groups with a cadre leader to offer guidance and mentorship,” Gresko said.
“My cadre mentors were very helpful and supportive,” said Eric Failner, a student who earned a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University in 1991, and recently completed Rio’s teacher-in-residence program.
Currently, about 300 students are participating in the i2Teach program. Gresko said the average age of participants is 38 years, but “we have people from all walks of life – stay at home moms and dads, recareering adults and those seeking encore careers.”
The first semester of the program includes 12 webinars (one per week) that introduce students to Rio Salado College and cover basic topics such as how to conduct parent-teacher conferences.
As part of their assignments, students are asked to film 3-5 minutes of classroom interaction and upload it to a secure site for group feedback, as well as write blogs on specific topics.
“Twice a semester, cadre leaders will observe students in their classrooms,” Gresko said. “This helps encourage discussion and identifies best practices.”
A majority of the i2Teach grant funding will help students by paying for 4-credit hours plus fees for each participant per semester.
“Rio Salado’s teacher certification program is already a great opportunity because of our affordable tuition,” Gresko said. “With the i2Teach grant providing scholarships for participants, it makes teacher certification financially viable because students are also receiving full-time salaries from their schools.”
The remainder of the grant funding is used to provide equipment such as cameras for student teachers to use in classrooms as part of their assignments.
To be eligible for i2Teach, participants must:
- Have a bachelor’s degree
- Attain an IVP fingerprint clearance from the Arizona Department of Education
- Pass a subject-matter proficiency exam
- Successfully complete an online Structured English Immersion (SEI) course (8 or 14 weeks in length)
It is up to the program participants to find and apply for an open teaching position.
“The tradeoff is that, in Arizona, and nationwide, there is a teacher shortage across the board, especially in the areas of math, science and special education,” Gresko said.
Rio Salado College is currently accepting applications for the i2Teach program.
For more information visit www.riosalado.edu/tir.
This story can also be found in the Sept. 27, 2014 edition of the Tempe Republic. By Mira Radovich, Communications Coordinator at Rio Salado College.