Marin Teacher of Color Scholarship Program Growing

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As a recipient of a Marin Teacher of Color (TOC) scholarship at Dominican, Lizbet Estrada Rebollar of Novato is feeling more confident about her future in teaching.

“It sounds strange and even unbelievable, but as a young immigrant Latinx student and the first generation to go to college, almost everything related to higher education stood a challenge and a mystery to me,” Lizbet says.

Dominican is helping her meet that challenge. Lizbet, who is completing her undergraduate degree in Education Studies and plans to earn an MS in Education from Dominican, joins Dana Dacas of San Rafael and Teresa Magana of Greenbrae as the first recipients of the TOC scholarship, a new scholarship program designed to address the shortage of teachers of color working in Marin County’s public schools funded by a $300,000 contribution established last year by an anonymous donor.

Prior to the shelter-in-place order due to COVID-19, Lizbet was teaching Spanish one hour a day to students at Glenwood Elementary School. The TOC scholarship at Dominican will help her advance in her teaching career.

Students in Dominican’s Teacher Preparation Program develop a broad range of knowledge, critical-thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills. Through small class sizes and individualized attention, students have the opportunity to explore pedagogy and teaching strategies that address the needs of diverse learners, including English learners and students with special needs and gifts.

Dominican provides full-time and part-time course offerings through the Education Master's program. Supervised student teaching and internship options in the Bay Area are also part of this immersive program.

“I am learning the skills that I will need as a future elementary teacher. Most importantly, I get all the teaching techniques from excellent skilled, former professional teachers,” Lizbet says. “Their insights are truly impacting how I see myself in the classroom interacting with my students. Their unique teaching procedure has allowed me to put into practice the theory content with the practice training I do at the different fieldwork placements.”

The scholarships were created to benefit underrepresented students, with preference given to African American and/or Latinx students living in Marin County who intend to teach, or currently teach, at a Marin County public school. They must be working on the Teaching Credential portion of the MS Education degree or taking courses towards their Teaching Credential as part of their Bachelor’s Degree in Education Studies.

“We are excited that our Marin Teachers of Color Scholarship will support more local people of color in their path to becoming teachers,” says Julie Grellas, field placement and outreach coordinator for Dominican’s Department of Education and a former Oakland teacher of recent immigrant students. “The scholarship not only benefits the scholarship recipients, but also strengthens the entire Dominican community to have these recipients as part of our program and university. We all benefit from a more diverse community and our local students benefit from having more teachers of color.”

According to a 2018 report by Canal Alliance, there are only 5.6 non-white teachers per 100 non-white students in Marin. “This is an imbalance in representation of significant proportions,” the report noted.

For graduate students, the award amount covers up to 50% of tuition in a semester while the student is completing the Teaching Credential portion of the MS in Education degree. It’s awarded as a scholarship to the student and goes directly to the student’s account towards tuition charges for the term. A student can receive both this scholarship and a graduate admissions scholarship if selected for the former and if they meet the qualifications at the time of admission for the latter.

For undergraduate students, the award is up to $5,000 per year and is added on top of other financial aid the student is already receiving, such as Dominican merit scholarships; federal, state, and institutional grants; along with work-study and loans.

“We are grateful that a generous donor provided this opportunity to our students of color who want to teach in Marin schools,” says Vickie Alleman, vice president for enrollment and marketing. “As Marin County demographics continue to shift it’s important for students to have teachers who reflect their values and culture.”

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