SHI, UAS launch new opportunities for Native educators

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Sealaska Heritage Institute and the University of Alaska Southeast are offering new scholarships and opportunities to Alaska Native students enrolled in the Preparing Indigenous Teachers and Administrators for Alaska Schools program, known as PITAAS.

    SHI and UAS are offering the initiatives under a new memorandum of agreement through which the institute will be a full partner of PITAAS, a program founded by the university in 2000 to grow the number of Alaska Native teachers and administrators and improve educational opportunities for Alaska Native K-12 students.

    Through the program, which is funded by a federal grant from the Alaska Native Education Program awarded to SHI, the partners will offer tuition waivers to Alaska Native freshmen and sophomore students who are interested in PITAAS for certain language and culture classes, said SHI President Rosita Worl. The tuition of PITAAS junior, senior, graduate and Ph.D. students is already supported by the program.

    “Our end goal is to improve the success of Alaska Native students, and we know they do better academically when their languages and cultures are incorporated into schools. Having Alaska Native educators who are knowledgeable in those areas is a key part of that,” Worl said.

    “We're excited to partner with SHI in this expanded effort,” said UAS Chancellor Rick Caulfield. “This partnership is significant, not only for the support of students in our teacher and administrator preparation programs, but for the tremendous number of Alaska students they will impact in the span of their careers as educators and role models."

    The priorities under the new partnership, called PITAAS VII, are to support Alaska Native students and educators for initial or advanced certification or degrees in education or Indigenous language and culture; Support professional development activities for educators, including PITAAs scholars and university faculty, on issues affecting Alaska Native students; Revitalize Alaska Native languages and cultures, and offer career preparation activities that enable Alaska Native pre-service teachers in the PITAAS program an opportunity to gain valuable work experience as well as guided education experiences with Alaska Native educators in SHI's annual Latseen Leadership Academy.

    SHI and UAS also will launch a Teacher of Distinction program, which will include an award ceremony and monetary prize for an outstanding teacher. The program also will fund SHI’s annual lecture series and the UAS oratory competition and Native graduation ceremony at UAS.

    Alaska Native freshmen and sophomore students who are interested in becoming a teacher or administrator in Alaska, are enrolled in a qualifying UAS course and have a 2.0 cumulative GPA are eligible to apply for tuition waivers for up to eight credits in their freshmen and sophomore years through Native language and cultural courses.

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