The College of Education has launched a classroom-to-career placement program for students majoring in education. The Black Belt Teacher Corps gives teacher education majors funding for their own education and provides additional funding to start their own educational initiatives in the schools where they teach.

The scholarship is given because there is a shortage of teachers in rural areas, as many students go on to teach in non-rural areas. The Alabama Legislature recognized a need for more teachers in rural areas and donated $250,000 to help start the program. The majority of this money goes to student scholarships.

The scholarship is for undergraduate students majoring in education and is $2500 a semester. It is good for their junior and senior year, totaling $10,000. The program is hoping to have ten juniors and ten seniors be chosen every year.

Kristina Karloff, Black Belt Teacher Corps Coordinator, is optimistic about the scholarship. “We’re hoping that by being able to have this scholarship that we attract students that will go above and beyond and be standouts when they graduate. We feel like this scholarship will be the vehicle to get them there.”

When students accept the scholarship, they have to commit to three things. The first is that they must agree to teach for three years in one of the nineteen counties that make up the Black Belt area. These counties are: Barbour, Bullock, Butler, Choctaw, Clarke, Crenshaw, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Montgomery, Perry, Pickens, Pike, Russell, Sumter, and Wilcox.

The second is leadership training. The leadership training focuses on rural schools and poverty and how to help students make more from limited resources. It also focuses on understanding poverty, rural issues, time management, civic responsibility, and the history of the Black Belt.

The last thing students commit to is a service project. The money received from the Alabama Legislature also included a $1000 start-up per student. The service project will be either community-based or school-based and the $1000 can be used to invest in their school.

“We hope that our students do a such a great job on these service projects that it gets the principal’s and superintendent’s attention and they say ‘Wow, look at what they did as an undergraduate! We need to hire them,’” Kallhoff said.

One of the recipients of the scholarship, Haley Sizemore, is very grateful to have been accepted into the program. “I’m really thankful that I got it. Because it’s been my dream job. My mom has been a teacher for 29 years, so I guess teaching runs in my family.”

Sizemore said she wants to teach either first or second grade in Sumter County or Marengo County. “I wanted to teach in a place where I felt called to teach. I felt led to teach in a rural place. There’s something about it that makes me want to do it,” Sizemore said. “I want to bring my experiences and everything I’ve learned at UWA to people who may never get that education without the things I’ve learned.”

Other recipients of the scholarship are: Austin Bishop, Macy Bush, Levi Dorsett, Paige Gandy, Devante Giles, Mellissa Grayson, Sarah Huggins, Allyson Grayson, Allie Marques, Kristin Phillips, Haley Richardson, Chelsey Robinson, Ebonee Spinks, Elizabeth Waddell, Shaniqua Washington, and Caitlin Zirlott.

For more information and details on how to apply, call Kristina Kallhoff at 205-652-5426 or email her at kkallhoff@uwa.edu.

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