Fort Hays State University's College of Education and Technology is entering into a new program as part of the UCAN Serve AmeriCorps grant with the Colorado Campus Compact.
CCC provides a partnership through service learning and civic engagement programs in support of the civic mission of higher education. FHSU was able to get involved through the Kansas Campus Compact.
"The project hopes to channel student service into high-need schools and to attract qualified teachers to those sites," said Dr. Debbie Mercer, dean of the College of Education and Technology.
UCAN Serve, originally designed in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah, is a part-time education award that identifies student teaching as a community service in low-achieving, poor, rural and struggling schools. Kansas schools were invited to participate, and approximately 100 participants were allotted. When other Kansas schools didn't fill the allocation, FHSU was able to invite additional students.
Mike Karl, director of field experiences for the Office of Professional Services, is coordinating the project for FHSU. He said the university has been trying to get student teachers into more diverse settings.
"What is so valuable about this service award is that with our increasing commitment to diversity, students often encounter additional expenses when we place them farther away," said Karl.
This spring, 28 students will receive awards based on hours of service: 300 hours of service equates to an education stipend of $1,000. Hours, activities and reflections are kept in a logbook throughout the time of service.
Mercer said that with the amount of hours students have to put in for student teaching anyway, they easily meet the requirements.
Karl said about one-third of the 87 student teachers received an award. Distribution is equally balanced between elementary and secondary education majors. If each student completes the requirements, a total of $28,000 will be given to FHSU student teachers.
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The students involved were trained prior to the beginning of the semester by members of the Colorado and Kansas Campus Compacts and will begin their service after successfully completing a background check.
This spring the program is in a pilot stage, with CCC as a mentor for Kansas. The Kansas Campus Compact hopes to eventually secure its own UCAN Serve grant.
"It is our hope that this is not a one-time experience," said Mercer, "but that it is successful this year and that the grant money continues so it's something we can continue to offer to candidates."
Mercer also said that because student teachers are not allowed to be paid during their experience, this grant provides financial assistance that can be used toward educational expenses, including tuition or even future education classes.
"We have long been advocates of the fact that we're adding to a classroom every time a student has the opportunity to walk in," said Mercer. "This grant is just another way that's recognized."
Students involved are listed by hometown and classification.
ANTHONY: Kiley Olds, senior.
ARGONIA: Ken Simon, special student.
BENNINGTON: Meaghan Kilgore, senior.
CYPRESS, Texas: Kirby McDowell, senior.
GARDEN PLAIN: Jennifer Meyer, senior.
HAYS: Chris Bonham, senior; Mike Howell, senior; Julie Masden, senior; Andrew Moland, senior; Nicole Moody, senior; Adam Otte, special student; Mary Rooney, special student; Craig Stramel, senior and Alex Teopfer, senior.
LINDSBORG: Mark Sandbo, senior.
MARYSVILLE: Jessica Blumer, senior.
NATOMA: Kelsey Beisner, senior.
NESS CITY: Brent Kerr, senior.
NIXA, Mo.: Dustin Martin, senior.
OAKLEY: Kelly Joseph, senior.
OSBORNE: David Hindeman, senior and Krisa Ubelaker, senior.
PRATT: Jenna Polok, senior and Megan Ricke, senior.
ROZEL: Carol Stephenson, special student.
SALINA: Aaron Davidson, senior.
STRATTON: Thomas Hornung, special student.