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Snow College, UVU team up to tackle teacher shortages in rural Utah


EPHRAIM — Snow College and Utah Valley University have reached an agreement that will hopefully benefit students — their own, and those in rural Utah schools.

Beginning this fall, Snow College students who earn an associate’s degree or 60 credits in elementary education will be automatically accepted to UVU’s School of Education. They can continue their degree from Snow College, or transfer to UVU’s Orem campus.

“We see ourselves as partners working to eliminate barriers that keep students from graduating,” said Michael Austin, provost at Snow College. “It will allow students who can’t move to stay at home and earn a bachelor’s degree.”

Snow College and UVU leaders who collaborated on the "2+2" initiative came together to sign an agreement. This partnership should benefit Snow College students and rural communities.
Snow College and UVU leaders who collaborated on the “2+2” initiative came together to sign an agreement. This partnership should benefit Snow College students and rural communities. (Photo: Utah Valley University)

This “2+2 Education Model” has been in the works for six months and was designed to address teacher shortages in rural Utah, Austin said.

“Most of the interest has come from superintendents and principals in central Utah,” he added. “They have a tremendous need for classroom teachers.”

Central Utah includes Sanpete, Sevier, Wayne, Millard and Piute counties, from whence 43% of Snow College students come. Regional school districts hope this program will keep graduates in the area.

“When students leave central Utah to go to Orem, or to go to Salt Lake or Cedar City to do student teaching, they tend to stay there,” Austin said. “The principals don’t want those students to go into larger cities to do their student teaching.”

Austin anticipates the majority of students enrolled in the 25-person program will be current classroom paraprofessionals.

“There are a lot of people who work in the schools, but they don’t have a degree, so they can’t teach,” said Scott Trotter, senior director of communications at UVU.

Schools in rural counties typically offer teacher licensing through online courses, but Austin said he sees a huge benefit to training in local classrooms. Central Utah school districts do, too.

To keep things local, UVU faculty will travel to Ephraim multiple times a week to teach classes at Snow College. Local adjunct faculty will also step in.

“We have some professors that are excited to do it,” Trotter said. For now, teaching in Ephraim will be on a volunteer basis.

Other, similar programs for Snow College students are in development. The college is planning to get a secondary education bachelor’s degree program off the ground later this year. It’s also looking at health care programs, which are in “very high demand in our region,” Austin said.

“By expanding access to quality education, this program will not only produce more qualified teachers for rural schools but also contribute to the overall development of stronger communities in Utah,” said Wayne Vaught, UVU senior vice president and provost.



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