New UNK Teachers Scholars Academy offers 40 full-tuition scholarships

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KEARNEY – Applications are open for a new full-tuition scholarship and learning academy for education majors announced today that will make the University of Nebraska at Kearney a more affordable and quality experience for 40 students.

Starting next fall, the scholars selected will be part of a new learning community and receive a scholarship funded by the William and Ruth Scott Family Foundation that will provide free tuition (up to credit 120 credit hours) plus $8,000 annually for education expenses (such as housing, books and food). That makes an education degree at UNK attainable for many more prospective teachers and is the intent of the universitywide scholarship program announced today.

Also offered in colleges of education at Lincoln and Omaha, the Teachers Scholars Academies announced today are devised to increase affordability and demand among education majors, eventually increasing the number of qualified and capable teachers available for Nebraska school districts.

At today’s tuition per credit-hour at UNK, the 120 credit hours is worth nearly $24,000 alone – and combined with the $32,000 in total provided for education expenses, the scholarship package is worth roughly $56,000.

“This generous donation changes the landscape of education in Nebraska,” said dean of the UNK College of Education Sheryl Feinstein. “We are excited to welcome 40 more students into UNK and the College of Education. These are future teachers who will make meaningful impact on the lives of countless children and their families all across the state and country.”

William Scott is a 1953 graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Business Administration. The Ashland native joined Buffett Partnership in 1959 and Berkshire Hathaway in 1970, where he remained until the early 1990s. Ruth Scott, also an Ashland native, earned a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1952. She went on to teach school and later founded the Omaha Bridge Studio.

By making college more affordable for prospective teachers, the University of Nebraska will be able to meet one of Nebraska’s most critical workforce needs, University of Nebraska President Hank Bounds said in making today’s announcement.

Bounds pointed out that the pipeline for preparing future generations of teachers isn’t keeping pace with demand. The number of college students in Nebraska majoring in education has fallen from 5,370 in 2009-10 to 3,600. And the number of teaching positions left vacant or filled by someone other than a fully-qualified teacher has more than tripled, to 232.

“The Teachers Scholars Academy will keep the University of Nebraska at the forefront of meeting the needs of Nebraska’s children and our workforce,” Bounds said.

The academy is fashioned as a learning community, with the 40 students selected taking two courses together each of the first and second years, and a third- or fourth-year class. The cohort courses become the basis for the academy in which the UNK students share common experiences, working alongside each other. A final research project or capstone experience will be collaborative, with students working in teams to present at a conference, seminar or workshop.

Other enrichment activities will take place for the academies, such as guest lectures, volunteer work and mentorships. Activities will be managed by a program coordinator on each campus who will lead recruitment and other efforts to foster community among the students, such as academy-only sections of some education courses, research, seminars and post-graduation networking.

More information and application can be found at Review of applications begins March 1.