ASU & Boettcher Teacher Program aid SLV schools


"How do you see that impacting you as a teacher?" Dr. Linda Christian asked the first group of eight aspiring teachers in the new Boettcher Teachers Program in the San Luis Valley. The graduate students had just read an article comparing the varying degrees of success Hispanic students achieved in four different southern Colorado school districts. The article found success was positively correlated to the degree of Hispanic influence in the community and district.

Dr. Linda Christian and the first cohort of the Boettcher Teacher Program in the SLV discuss Perspectives in Teaching and Learning.

Teaching and Learning" course drew on their own educational experiences in local schools. Their second course during the inaugural summer institute was "Culture of the Valley." The program aims to prepare more teachers for low-income, rural public schools, with a focus on training teachers to work with culturally and linguistically diverse students. It provides alternative teacher licensure and a master's degree in education from Adams State, along with an endorsement in culturally and linguistically diverse education.

Stephanie Hensley, with Adams State's Teacher Education Department, noted high teacher turnover in public schools has created a demand for alternative licensure. Initial participating school districts include Alamosa, Center, Monte Vista, Antonito, and North Conejos. Hensley added it is hoped the program will expand to other SLV districts.

This partnership with Adams State is the first extension of the Boettcher Teacher Program to rural communities. A collaboration between the Boettcher Foundation and Public Education & Business Coalition (PEBC), the program was initiated nine years ago on the Front Range, resulting in 96 percent teacher retention over six years, in addition to statistically significant increases in student achievement.

The program was modified for rural schools to offer two tracks: one for apprentices, and one that offers induction support for full-time, first-year teachers who already possess an alternative teaching license. Both groups complete a master's degree over the course of two years. In addition, apprentices work alongside a mentor teacher for the first year, then assume a classroom of their own for the second year. All participants make a five-year service commitment to San Luis Valley schools.

As part of their study of San Luis Valley culture, the Boettcher Teacher residents take part in the Fandango presented as part of the Hilos Institute.

Adams State provides a $100 per credit hour scholarship to all participants. The Boettcher Foundation supports an additional $5,000 scholarship for those in the apprentice track. The master's program entails between 39 and 48 credit hours of coursework, depending on the participant's previous coursework. They take classes on weekends and evenings, as well as in the summer.

Noting that Adams State was founded in 1921 specifically to prepare teachers for rural Colorado, University President David Svaldi said it can be difficult for rural school districts to fill certain teaching positions, such as those in math and science, and the Boettcher program will help address those needs.

By Julie Waechter