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UKanTeach students get support through Sprint Foundation gift

March 4, 2009

The best place to gain teaching experience is in the classroom. Thanks to a gift from the Sprint Foundation, University of Kansas students in the UKanTeach program will have opportunities to assist teachers in a unique college preparatory school in Kansas City, Mo.

UKanTeach is a four-year program that leads to a degree in math or science and a teaching license. Its purpose is to create more math and science teachers to inspire more students to enter math- and science-based professions.

After years in the Air Force and the corporate world, Larry Hollingsworth realized he wanted to do what he loved, teaching: “To get students involved and engaged in science, I bring in my feelings and thoughts about the subject. I want to show them the real world.”

Participating KU students receive a stipend for working alongside teachers 10 to 20 hours a week in a classroom.

The Sprint Foundation’s $25,000 gift will provide funding for two UKanTeach students to assist teachers at Southwest Early College Campus, in the Kansas City, Mo., school district. Southwest opened at the start of the 2008-09 academic year and its curriculum emphasizes math and science education for grades 6-12. Housed in the former Southwest High School at 65th and Wornall, the school includes an on-site planetarium and science laboratories.

Steven Scraggs, Southwest’s principal, said UKanTeach students will assist in developing the school’s academic program. “We’re always looking at ways we can bring innovative instruction to our students,” Scraggs said. “The UKanTeach participants will do a great job of helping us develop students who are experienced college scholars.”

Jan Lariviere, program coordinator of UKanTeach, said the opportunity to help in classrooms enables students to determine early in their college career if they want to teach. Moreover, she said, UKanTeach creates more teachers. “The more students are out in the community experiencing the joys of helping young people, the more likely they are to go into a helping profession like teaching.”

This semester Michael Ralph, a UKanTeach participant, is student teaching at West Junior High School in Lawrence. After graduation, he plans to teach ninth-grade biology and hopes to teach Advanced Placement biology as well. Along with teaching, he wants to coach volleyball.

Ralph said the program let him learn early in his college career what it was like to teach. “The focus of UKanTeach is on the teaching experience,” Ralph said. “You get your feet wet and see if it’s something you want to do.

KU students learn more about teaching by experiencing teaching and watching others teach, Ralph said. “The more time you spend in a classroom, the more time you’ll have to see a professional doing what you’ll be doing.”

The Sprint Foundation’s gift was made to KU Endowment, the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management foundation for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment is the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.

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March 4, 2009
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