UWA program aims to help solve rural teacher shortages

Published: Nov. 1, 2018 at 1:14 PM CDT
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The Black Belt region of Alabama is in need of teachers, so the University of West Alabama is helping to fill those positions through the Black Belt Teacher Corps program. Eligible students can earn scholarship money and much more, with one condition.

“They are required to teach in a school in the Black Belt for three years, obviously with the hope that they’ll fall in love with it and see what a positive difference they are making and choose to stay there, if not that particular school, at least another school in the Black Belt where they can really make a difference in the lives of these students,” says Ken Tucker, the president of UWA.

Students in the program will also work with Black Belt schools on a project with and for that school system.

“If we could get them to stay and see the impact they’re making on their student’s lives and also the quality of life is second-to-none,” Tucker says. “People are friendly and supportive and go out of their way to help you and support you and really appreciate what is going on.”

The teachers for the UWA program are also dedicated to the seeing the Black Belt grow.

“We have our top of the line teachers involved in this program as mentors and coaches, and they work very, very closely with the students,” Tucker says.

There are currently 20 students that remain active in the program.

“These are exceedingly bright students, they’re at the top of their class, and they are committed to the program and they are committed to West Alabama and the Black Belt region and really trying to make a difference,” Tucker says.

Only juniors and seniors in the College of Education are eligible for the Black Belt Teacher Corps. The program is currently in its third year at UWA.