In Fall 2019, Director Dr. Gerry Huber welcomed 24 first-year teacher candidates who are passionate about education to the inaugural Teacher Scholars Academy (TSA) cohort. The second cohort of 22 aspiring teachers began in August. The Scholars are pursuing degrees through the Teacher Education and Special Education and Communication Disorders departments, and working towards majors in Secondary, Elementary, and Special Education.
As a Teacher Scholar, students work closely with other high-performing Scholars by engaging in seminars, courses, peer mentoring, and special projects specially designed for each cohort. Through these experiences, Teacher Scholars will graduate with a strong network of professional peers. Experiential learning is a key part of the TSA, including service to the community and hands-on educational experiences.
Through a Service Learning project this spring, the Scholars partnered with fifth-grade students from Crestridge Magnet Center, and Inclusive Communities, a nonprofit providing education and advocacy on topics of diversity and inclusion. The project, "Redlining Conversations," explored the history of redlining in North and South Omaha and how those foundations of structural racism have left lingering inequalities on the Omaha community including effects on housing, education, health, criminal justice, and income.
The UNO and Crestridge students visited The Union for Contemporary Art to tour the Undesign the Redline exhibition to learn the history of redlining across the nation and specifically in the Omaha area, where many of the Scholars will begin their teaching careers. Because of the pandemic, the culminating project, a planned in-person Table Talk between both students groups, moved to a Zoom format with breakout rooms for discussion.
In a reflection paper about the project, one Teacher Scholar wrote, "Growing up, I came from a smaller community with very limited racial diversity. At the beginning of this project, it was hard for me to wrap my head around the idea of redlining due to the town I grew up in. After finishing my portion, as well as listening to others, I have gained a lot more knowledge and passion regarding the issue. As I gained more information about redlining’s secretive ways to discriminate against minorities, the more passionate I have become."
ABOUT THE TEACHER SCHOLARS ACADEMY
The TSA is a select group of high-achieving teacher candidates who embody leadership qualities, commitment to their communities. Teacher Scholars receive to 120 credits of in-state tuition and up to $4,000 per semester for room and board, books, fees, and other educational expenses over four years.
- Foster and promote leadership development and professional growth.
- Support teacher development to serve diverse populations and communities.
- Provide opportunities for collaborative research and scholarly work in education.
- Provide opportunities for community and global experiences to enrichcandidates' intellectual, professional, and interpersonal growth.
- Teacher development in hard-to-fill endorsement areas.
- Teacher retention over career.