CEDAR FALLS, Iowa — A diverse group of high school students have spent a week living on a college campus in Iowa to learn what it’s like to be an educator.
Fifteen students participated in the week-long Minority Educators for Today and Tomorrow academy hosted by the University of Northern Iowa, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reported.
The program is a collaboration between the university, Waterloo Schools and Marshalltown High School. It aims to grow diverse educators in the Cedar Valley.
The program shows minority students what it means to be a teacher and helps them see a path to becoming one, said university president Mark Nook.
“It made me want to become a teacher more. I can feel it now,” said program participant Tha Si, who just finished his freshman year at Waterloo West High School.
In the 2011-2012 school year, 51 percent of public school students nationwide were White while 82 percent of teachers were White, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Education.
“Research says that students learn better from teachers, role models that look like them, so we need more. We’re desperately in need of more,” said Tim Hopper, a seventh-grade Social Studies teacher at Central Middle School who was a facilitator in the program.
Another goal of the program is to demystify the college experience for students.
“It made it real for them. ‘Maybe I can go to college.’ To inspire that hope for them,” said university College of Education Dean Gaëtane Jean-Marie.
The program was free for students with funding provided by the university and the schools. The students each earned $500 scholarships to the university if they decide to attend after high school.