Education officials are partnering with Oklahoma City Community College to arrange scholarships in support of training better teachers in Oklahoma City.
“There’s close to 1,000 emergency certified teachers in our state this year, without any teacher education programs or any particular degrees,” said Dr. Liz Willner, director of teacher education. “We have this problem of unqualified teachers being in the classroom, and we, as a university, need to make a difference.”
Hoping to increase the number of qualified educators, OCU and OCCC collaborated to form a scholarship program for those who pursue a bachelor’s degree in any of OCU’s education majors. OCCC students with an associate’s degree and at least a 3.0 GPA, can take five semesters at OCU to earn an education degree through the scholarship.
The scholarship program addresses various needs that the education system in Oklahoma has had for years. These issues include the scarcity of certified educators, the low levels of pay for teachers, as well as autonomy within classrooms that is required by teachers. Without proper qualification, many teachers are forced to adhere to strict curriculums without freedom to teach in their own way.
“Educators want to be able to teach well in the ways they know are best,” Willner said. “Sometimes, though, they’ll go to districts where so much is mandated for them that they’re not able to best use their own knowledge of how children learn and develop.”
The scholarship will provide OCCC students with an opportunity to complete their degrees at OCU.
“We have one of the best teacher education programs in the state,” said Monica Hiller, elementary education junior. “I think it would be really good to be training as many future teachers through our program as possible.”
For more information about the scholarship program, email Willner at LWillner@okcu.edu or look up the scholarship at okcu.edu/artsci/departments/education/undergraduate/teaching-scholars-program