Teaching fellows program will provide `Paraprofessionals' to local schools

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Teaching fellows program will provide `Paraprofessionals' to local schools

As part of its ongoing campaign to battle the state’s teacher shortage crisis, California State University, Fresno has recently recruited an “elite cohort of future bilingual teachers” who will be placed in classrooms as paid paraprofessionals through the Teaching Fellows program, the first of its kind in the state.

The first Teaching Fellows are 31 area high school graduates recruited in the past few weeks by Fresno State’s School of Education and Human Development to begin working in the fall 1999 semester towards a degree and teacher certification.

The students and their parents will meet for the first time on Sunday, June 27, in Education Bldg., Rm. 140 at 4 p.m. for orientation and a reception.

Teaching Fellows will begin spending up to 15 hours a week at schools this fall when they begin their academic career as well as throughout their four-year teacher certification program in contrast to the more limited exposure that traditionally occurs prior to student teaching.

The students’ tuition is paid with fellowships from the federally-funded Career Ladder Program, a collaborative teacher preparation effort combining the resources of Fresno State, the Fresno Regional Occupational Program, and the State Center Community College District.

The program is funded by a five-year $952,500 U.S. Department of Education grant designed for promising bilingual high school students who show a commitment to teach by their participation in teacher preparations programs in high school.

Anne Murphy, director of Fresno State’s Career Ladder Program, said the program will produce 140 credentialed teachers over the next five years.

She said the university’s first group of students is considered among the area’s brightest high school graduates with a group composite GPA of 3.7, including several valedictorians.

“This is an elite cohort of future bilingual teachers, who will go to work as paraprofessionals in school districts immediately,” Murphy said. “This extensive classroom exposure will bring added relevance to their teacher preparation.”

Teaching Fellows is modeled after a similar program with the same name in North

Carolina that provides teacher training for students from underrepresented populations.

Language groups represented in Fresno State’s first group of 31 students are Spanish, Hmong, Khmer, Hindi, and Punjabi.

The students were given a choice of starting at the university or a community college. Seven chose Fresno City College, four chose Reedley College and the other 20 will enroll at Fresno State. The community college students will transfer to Fresno State after two years. All will attend a 3-unit Saturday academy once a month at the Fresno State campus.

The high school seniors were selected from the Fresno Regional Occupational Program’s Careers in Education component and each participated in a high school teacher prep program such as Fresno County’s Education Careers course or a high school teaching academy.

Steve Price, Fresno State’s director of teacher recruitment and the program’s consultant who authored the proposal for the federal grant, said the Career Ladder Program is a great example of the university’s participation in the state’s School to Career concept promoted in recent years.

“The aim of the program is to produce outstanding teachers who will help move our schools into an era of excellence and great achievement,” he said. “Opportunities will encourage the development of leaders and decision makers, as well as visionary thinkers and risk takers.”

High schools represented in the first class include Buchanan, Clovis High, Clovis West, Coalinga, Duncan Poly, Edison, Firebaugh, Fowler, Hoover, McLane, Reedley, and Selma. For more information, contact Murphy or Price at (559) 278-0230.