GVSU education undergrads receive scholarships to work in Detroit

GVL / Courtesy - Amanda Pitts, GVSU University Communications
Members of Grand Valley States Charter Schools Office

Amanda Pitts

GVL / Courtesy – Amanda Pitts, GVSU University Communications Members of Grand Valley State’s Charter School’s Office

Dylan Grosser

New this year, seven Grand Valley State University students received scholarships to be student teachers in GVSU charter schools located in Detroit.

The College of Education and the GVSU Charter Schools Office (CSO) have teamed up to form this scholarship after concerns were raised by GVSU charter schools in Detroit that there were not enough capable, passionate instructors who wanted to positively impact students’ lives.

Keith Vree, associate director for undergraduate programs in the College of Education, said the hope with these scholarships was that student teachers would stay on with the charter schools after they finished college.

“It provides an opportunity for our students, and also it’s important because it provides teachers for these starter schools who cannot find outstanding teachers,” Vree said.

Michael Cousins, communications and technology specialist in the CSO, said a lot of schools were struggling with keeping teachers in the classroom. He said the scholarship would help both parties: the GVSU students would get experience, and the schools would get quality assistance.

“We thought that this partnership would be a great way for students at GVSU to experience a classroom with students of high need and to start creating a pipeline between our university and (Detroit),” Cousins said.

The seven recipients of the award had to qualify for the scholarship by applying, maintaining their GPA at a certain level and passing the Professional Readiness Examination, which is a standard exam given to all students in the state of Michigan who wish to become student teachers.

The scholarship pays for 13 credit hours for each student, which totals to around $6,500 in tuition alone for each student. More specifically, the scholarship pays for 10 credit hours of student teaching and three credit hours for the education capstone the students must complete along with their student teaching. The scholarship does not cover housing or transportation for the students.

While only seven students were awarded the scholarship this year, the maximum number of students who can be awarded is 20. Vree said word of the scholarship is spreading quickly, and he hopes next year there will be more than 20 students who apply.

GVSU currently authorizes 73 charter schools in Michigan, half of which are in Detroit and the other half of which are spread throughout multiple locations across the Lower Peninsula. The CSO has existed since 1995, around the same time a law was passed which allowed Michigan to start chartering schools.

The CSO provides its charter schools with many GVSU-based programs. The office invites thousands of students from eighth grade to 11th grade each year to do a campus tour. Cousins said the office also brings in close to 100 high school students for a “summer enrichment camp,” where they get to stay in the dorms and take mock classes to “get a feel of what college may be like if they come to GVSU.”

He said the students who come visit GVSU could be more motivated to work hard in the classroom and pursue college.

“Being able to come to a college campus and to walk around and learn about it, it gives them the idea that college is a reality,” Cousins said.