Endowment supporting UAS Alaska College of Education Surpasses $1 Million
When the University of Alaska Board of Regents voted to make the University of Alaska Southeast home for the statewide Alaska College of Education, it did so with confidence that UAS would continue making teacher preparation one of its top priorities. The need for quality Alaska-educated teachers has never been greater, and the mission of the Alaska College of Education is to grow that number significantly in the years ahead.
The decision of the Board of Regents was supported by a generous pledge from the City and Borough of Juneau creating the Teacher Excellence Fund (TEF) at the Juneau Community Foundation (JCF). With CBJ’s support and gifts from over 170 donors, a $1 million endowment has been raised to educate more quality Alaskan teachers, principals, and superintendents. Each year, the JCF plans to distribute approximately 5% of the fund’s earnings to underwrite UAS leadership in teacher preparation and educational leadership across state. A Juneau-based advisory committee, which includes the mayor and city manager, works with the UAS Education dean to determine how best to use the funds. During its inaugural year, the fund is providing $25,000 to help grow the number of young Alaskans who choose to become teachers.
This year, a top priority for the fund is recruitment of high school students to UA’s teacher preparation programs. Proceeds from the endowment are supporting the development of “Educators Rising” activities at Juneau’s Thunder Mountain High School. Educators Rising is a national organization that helps high school students explore the teaching profession. Juneau Superintendent Dr. Bridget Weiss calls Educators Rising a “pay-it-forward program that will inspire young people to pursue careers in education.” The Alaska chapter of Educators Rising offers a 4-course career pathway and the opportunity for students to compete in the annual career competition activities. The UAS Juneau Campus was fortunate to host this year’s competition in March, with more than 70 Educators Rising students attending from across the state.
The fund’s proceeds are also being used to support the program at the two high schools in Sitka. Dr. Mary Wegner, Sitka School District Superintendent, said “we are very appreciative of the Juneau Community Foundation for helping us to launch an Educator Rising program for students in both of our high schools and in our homeschool program. By engaging our high school students in this way, we will hopefully be able to grow our own teachers in the future.”
The UAS Alaska College of Education continues to lead in UA-wide education initiatives. Despite its relatively small size, the College has produced some 40% of all Alaska teacher education graduates in recent years. UAS is taking the lead in collecting and managing UA-wide education data, and expanding recruitment to UA programs statewide. Moreover, the UAS Executive Dean, Dr. Steve Atwater, has played a vital coordinating role in guiding the transition of UAA’s discontinued teacher preparation programs to existing accredited programs at UAF and UAS.
UAS has a strong tradition of preparing educators, principals, and administrators of excellence who demonstrate a commitment to enhancing the lives of students. Through undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs, UAS provides high level training and preparation to the next generation of Alaska's teachers. Through online learning, future teachers can study from anywhere, and at their own pace. And, in partnership with Sealaska Heritage Institute, UAS supports the PITAAS (Preparing Indigenous Teachers & Administrators for Alaska Schools) for future Alaska Native educators. PITAAS provides scholarships for Alaska's Indigenous educators, helping build a more diverse and culturally-responsive teacher workforce for Alaska.
To learn more about education degrees available through the UAS Alaska College of Education, visit uas.alaska.edu/education or speak to an advisor at (907) 796-6076.
- Alaska College of Education: https://uas.alaska.edu/
- Juneau Community Foundation Teacher Excellence Fund: https://www.juneaucf.org/
- PITAAS program information: http://www.uas.alaska.edu/