Arkansas Teacher Corps fills need

HOPE – Hope High School Principal Bill Hoglund calls the Arkansas Teacher Corps “a godsend.” Teacher shortages nationwide have beleaguered school principals when filling vacancies; but, the University of Arkansas program has given Hoglund and other Hope principals an Arkansas-based solution.

“The young people we get from Arkansas Teacher Corps are better prepared to step into the classroom than many first-year teaching graduates,” Hoglund told the Hope Kiwanis Club here Tuesday.

HHS currently has five ATC fellows on faculty, according to Chris Collier, ATC director of organizational development.

“Hope is one of our favorite districts; it’s a great partnership,” Collier told the Kiwanians.

A non-profit initiative of the University of Arkansas College of Education and Health Professions, Arkansas Teacher Corps was established in 2013, and has grown to place 60 teachers in 23 public school districts in Arkansas.

“We pride ourselves in being homegrown,” Collier said.

Most applicants to the ATC fellowship program are Arkansans, he notes.

“What we have found is the people we have placed love to be there,” Collier said.

The three-year fellowships are open to any individual who has a bachelor’s degree, or will graduate with a bachelor’s degree by June of the application year, in any discipline. Applicants must be legally eligible to work in Arkansas, and must have a minimum 2.7 grade point average, although a GPA of 3.0 or higher is recommended.

Collier said only 20 percent of applicants are typically accepted into the ATC program each year.

“We are finding some of the best around,” he said.

ATC applicants and fellows need not be an education major to qualify; but, all ATC Fellows are required to complete a seven-week summer institute prior to entering the classroom to teach the following fall. Fellows teach in school districts for three years under normal contract conditions while becoming provisionally licensed in Arkansas through ATC.

Teaching positions are full time, paid classroom positions, and stipend payments totaling $15,000 over the three-year initial commitment are paid by ATC. Bonus stipends are available through the Arkansas Department of Education Office for Teacher Recruitment and Retention, in some cases, for teachers in critical-needs subjects in smaller, high-need school districts.

After the initial three-year commitment is completed and all licensure requirements met, ATC Fellows are given a standard five-year teaching license.

“We go out to find quality people to be teachers that have not been education majors,” Collier said.

ATC applications are available at the Arkansas Teacher Corps home page online by clicking on the 2018 Fellowship Application button in the top right corner of the page.