Chloe Calder wanted to be a teacher. Yet, trying to find the time and resources to take and pass the required exams while a student at Cal State Long Beach seemed more daunting than facing a roomful of kindergartners.
In California, aspiring student teachers must complete the multiple state licensure and tests before they can be recommended for a teaching credential. They then are required by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing to fulfill 600 hours of unpaid student teaching and fieldwork.
For Calder and others, the financial burden was eased by a grant from SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union while in the Urban Dual Credential Program (UDCP), a two-year residency program which prepares students to earn both multiple subject and special education teaching credentials.. She received $1,500 in her final year at Cal State Long Beach.
“It helped me mostly to take more time on my education and less time working,” said Calder, who now second and third graders in the Compton Unified School District. “I had more time to get through the assignments and the program. It also allowed me the ability to take some of the big exams, some of which are quite expensive and time-consumer to prepare for.”
In 2015, the university’s College of Education received a five-year, $500,000 gift from SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union to fund the UTEACH pathway by offering program support, recruitment stipends and scholarships in an effort to prepare students for a multiple subject teaching credential.
Two years later, the gift was amended to include UDCP, which also helps ready students for a career in teaching by earning two credentials simultaneously using the clinical practice model. Calder said she knew fellow teaching candidates whose financial aid ran out before they were able to finish the credential program, or others who had to work full-time, which left little time to study.
Charlee Kae Vickers, a 2013 graduate, managed to work full time during school, but still was able to earn her credential because of the support she received from her cohort and advisers, who she said continually inspired her. She said the SchoolsFirst FCU UTEACH gave her the tools to deal with children in a classroom.
“It emphasized to me the idea that we are not just teachers, but advocates for our students,” said Vickers, who teaches seventh grade at Oxford Academy in Cerritos, California. “It instilled in us that we need to provided equity and equality.
“It also taught me to utilize our resources and each other. SchoolsFirst FCU UTEACH made it clear that we need to think outside the box and that we also need to continue our education as teachers to be the best we can be.”
Calder, too, has found that her experiences in the SchoolsFirst FCU UDCP taught her how to be resourceful when funding is low. She said she still is waiting for a classroom computer, which makes teaching more challenging.
“I haven’t been able to do as much technology projects that I would have liked, but it just makes me think outside the box and work harder,” Calder said.
Vickers said SchoolsFirst FCU UTEACH showed her how to excel despite potential challenges.
About SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union:
SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union is the largest credit union in the nation to serve school employees and their families exclusively. Since its founding in 1934, they have been focused on providing world-class personal service and financial security to their Members. All public and private school employees in the state of California are eligible for Membership. Their founders consisted of 126 school employees who pooled $1,200 for the purpose of improving the financial lives of those with a common bond of education. SchoolsFirst FCU takes to heart the “people helping people” philosophy, the principle on which credit unions were founded. Pledging themselves to this idea not only means steadfast dedication to Member service, but also actively supporting the communities they serve through events, donations, scholarships, and financial literacy programs. SchoolsFirst FCU currently has over $15 billion in assets, more than 850,000 Members and over 1,900 teammembers.
Consider helping other aspiring teachers at www.csulb.edu/ced