Cal Poly Pomona’s College of Education and Integrative Studies recently received a gift of $25,000 and an endowment valued at $82,000 to expand the Teacher Academy, a pathway program for high school students going into the education profession.
According to the Dean of CEIS, Hend Gilli-Elewy, the donation was provided by Ivan Misner, founder of Business Network International and CPP alumni.
“Young people represent about 20% of the population but they’re 100% of our future, so most of my charitable giving has been related to children and education,” said Misner. “The money would be better spent with teachers than anything else.”
With the donated funds, the Teacher Academy can further support students in their academic endeavors and provide them with more opportunities.
“Children are our future and teachers have a major impact on that future,” said Misner. “I had three teachers that completely changed the trajectory of my life, they influenced me in ways that are still relevant to me today.”
The Teacher Academy’s mission is to connect high school students who are aspiring teachers with professionals and make the resources at Cal Poly Pomona available to them. Through the program, students can receive college credits as well as practical experience to prepare them for a teaching career.
Ethnic and women’s studies Lecturer, Paul Knopf is a leader for the Teacher Academy.
“These high school students are serious about going into the teaching profession, and with the Teacher Academy program, we’re kind of helping them along the way,” said Knopf. “It’s a unique opportunity and the issue is there’s not that many districts that have this pathway program.”
Knopf said this donation will help the program grow and expand. According to Knopf, the Teacher Academy is extending their outreach and currently working with three other school districts.
The culminating opportunity for these high school students is a field trip geared toward future teachers, with the hopes they choose to attain a bachelor’s degree at CPP. Participants get a general tour, as well as the opportunity to connect with students, professors, the dean and other staff from the education department. The program also allows students to learn more about the process and what classes are available.
“The donations and the grants help provide the funds needed for the bus, for feeding them for the tours, for all of those extra things that we can provide schools with, so money isn’t an obstacle for them to participate in something like this,” said Knopf.
Knopf said for some school districts, field trips are a luxury and the funds may not exist to pay for the buses, or for teachers to miss a day.
According to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed budgetreleased in January, Proposition 98 funding for the 2023-2024 school year is $108.8 billion, indicating a $1.5 billion decrease relative to 2022. Proposition 98 establishes a minimum funding guarantee for K-12 schools and community colleges and this drop will be the first following a decade of increases.
California schools are also experiencing a lack of enrollment following the pandemic. According to EdSource, K-12 enrollment faceda 1.8% decline in 2022, falling below 6 million for the first time in two decades. Low enrollment can resultin funding cuts for California schools, leading to staff cuts and teacher shortages.
“I do think funding is important for that major because they will be the next educators,” said engineering student, Katelyn Nguyen. “I know the system already doesn’t pay teachers that much.”
One of the Teacher Academy’s overarching goals is to alleviate California’s teacher shortage by encouraging prospective high school students to pursue the field of education and become the next generation’s teachers.
“It (Teacher Academy) sounds like a nice learning experience for the younger students,” said Nguyen. “Especially since the school really emphasizes hands-on work and the ‘learn by doing.’”
The Teacher Academy meets quarterly on campus and will utilize the donation to continue supporting aspiring teachers through their academic journey.