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American Indian Program Hopes to Develop Future Teachers Committed to Community


July 30, 2004

SOURCE: Phillip Huebner, 480/727-1036, phillip.huebner@asu.edu

MESA, Ariz. - To encourage more Native American students to become teachers in their communities and reduce turnover experienced by tribal schools, the American Indian Program (AIP) at Arizona State University's Polytechnic campus will begin offering interested students an opportunity to become science and math high school teachers.

"Studies have shown that a non-native teacher stays in a tribal school for an average of two years, where a native teacher stays an average of 10 years," said Phillip Huebner, director of the American Indian Program. "I believe that most would agree, that it's better for the students, the school and the community if teachers stay with the school on a longer-term basis."

AIP is partnering with Chandler Gilbert Community College and ASU's Polytechnic campus Education to offer Bridges to Secondary Education, beginning this fall, with the first cohort of 25 students. The program is open to students throughout the country, but the initial cohort is primarily made up of students from Arizona and South Dakota.

"Our program is the only one in Arizona that specifically focuses on increasing the number of American Indian high school science and math teachers in their communities," said Huebner.

Students will participate in a four-year secondary education degree program, and gain the skills and knowledge of a master teacher. Cohort participants will take their first two years of classes together and then branch out into math or science areas.

According to Huebner, the success rate of students going through a program together is greater than if they went through it individually.

"Going through the program together and the support infrastructure provided will aid students in staying in school and successfully completing the program," said Huebner.

The Bridges to Secondary Education program is an extension of the Summer Bridge program that AIP has been hosting for five years. The Summer Bridge Program is designed to provide entering freshmen, associate degree students entering four-year degree programs, returning non-traditional students and returning adult students with families the opportunity to increase their academic preparation, degree expectations, academic excellence and retention.

Students enrolled in the Bridges to Secondary Education program will be required to participate in future Summer Bridge programs, from exploring the programs offered by the College of Technology and Innovation to completing internships with technology-based companies and state and government agencies to help them better understand the roles math and science play in real-life job applications.

The National Science Foundation is funding the start-up program with a $600,000 grant, which also provides funds for the students to travel to the Science and Math Experience Conference (SME) or other teacher conferences. Intel is providing desktop and laptop computers for use in a lab dedicated to the students completing their studies.

"These added perks help to keep students interested in education and the science, math, engineering and technology fields and gets them excited about teaching it, too," said Huebner.

Recruiting for the second cohort will begin in January 2005. For information about the program, contact Huebner at (480) 727-1036 or visit www.east.asu.edu/aip/programs.htm.