JUNEAU (AP) -- The University of Alaska Southeast hopes a $2.4 million federal grant will translate into as many as 80 new Alaska Native teachers.
The three-year grant will be used to try to identify Native high school students who are interested in teaching, help prepare them for college and then enroll them at UAS with full scholarships.
''It's badly needed, that's for sure,'' said Oscar Kawagley of Fairbanks, a co-director of the Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative, a group concerned with Native education reform.
Fewer than 6 percent of Alaska teachers are Native, although about 25 percent of schoolchildren are, state education officials said.
''I think it is a very timely activity because right now a lot of rural areas are having a hard time filling their teacher positions,'' said Bernice Tetpon, the bilingual program coordinator for the state Department of Education.
The UAS Professional Education Center is partnering with Sealaska Heritage Foundation and Middlebury College's Bread Loaf School of English on the project.
UAS will develop Internet courses to improve the selected high school students' math and English skills. UAS and Middlebury College, which is based in Vermont but holds summer graduate English courses in Juneau, will also develop summer courses at UAS for the high school students.
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