Arizona Teachers Academy scholarship helps mom pursue degree at ASU

Arizona Teachers Academy scholarship helps mom pursue degree at ASU

By

Dolores Tropiano

For a time, Taura Rush thought becoming a teacher was out of reach. The Arizona Teachers Academy scholarship at Arizona State University — and acess to an online degree program — changed that. 

In 2020, after leaving an abusive marriage, Rush, 34, returned to her family in the small town of Joseph City, Arizona. The single mother of two took a job as a school paraprofessional and, to make ends meet, also worked as the maintenance person on the same campus. 

Her days began at 5 a.m., mowing lawns before spending eight hours assisting a student with learning challenges caused by a brain injury. She worked evenings as a volleyball coach and spent weekends doing more maintenance at the school. 

“The bank account was drained and I was trying to figure out what to do,” says the Arizona native.

Then she found out about the ATA scholarship. 

The scholarship provides aspiring teachers with funds to cover tuition and mandatory fees at ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College when they commit to teaching in an Arizona public school after graduation. The commitment is for an amount of time equal to the number of years they received the scholarship. 

“I was very anxious about finances,” Rush says. “The scholarship made all the difference for me.”

Getting guidance and support

After working as a paraprofessional, Rush decided to take a paid teaching position at Winslow High School with an Emergency Teaching Certificate issued by the Arizona Department of Education. School administrators can request the issuance of these certificates when a district or charter school is experiencing a shortage of educators for positions that have been advertised statewide but not filled by certified teachers. 

Next, Rush contacted MLFTC, even though she was not sure she could afford to pay for tuition. She knew the ATA scholarship was available to undergraduate students, but wasn’t sure if graduate students were eligible. 

A MLFTC recruiter confirmed that the ATA scholarship would work for students pursuing a master’s degree leading to initial teacher certification. Rush enrolled in 2021.

“That representative really cared,” Rush says. “He tried to help me do better for myself.” 

Rush opted to pursue teacher certification through an MEd in Secondary Education, where she could take online classes. She was able to continue teaching with an Alternative Teaching Certificate, earning a salary while she completed her coursework and the requirements for an Arizona Standard Professional Teaching Certificate. 

Community and connection

Like many others who attended MLFTC, Rush raved about the sense of community that came with being enrolled at the college.

“Oh, I love it,” says Rush. “I love the accessibility and how much outreach there is. They focus on taking care of each other.” 

When Rush faced a divorce and COVID-19, she was able to stay the course. “I still feel the sense of this caring. My professors have been so understanding.” 

MLFTC offers options

MLFTC offers many options for those returning to school like Rush. Students with a bachelor's degree can take a certification-only path or pursue a master’s degree plus certification. ASU undergraduate students enrolled in non-education degrees also have the ability to become certified to teach without changing their major. And the ATA scholarship is available to all of them.

Kevin Laack, director of student recruitment, has seen hundreds of students graduate debt-free thanks to the ATA scholarship. 

“They graduate with a degree from one of the top-ranked teacher’s colleges in the country,” Laack says. “And without the burden of debt.” 

The joys of teaching

Today, Rush is able to support her family and spend more time with them. She has earned enough to purchase a small home and an acre of land in Joseph City. She hopes to get chickens for her children. 

“Teaching really fits my lifestyle,” she says. “It gives me great joy.” 

After just one year of teaching, a former student returned to thank her.

“This was a boy who never said a word all year and here he was, visiting me,” she recalls. “It felt so good. It filled all of the holes in my soul.”

Rush will graduate from MLFTC in 2023. That would not be possible without the ATA scholarship, she says. “I hope more people will take advantage of this. It is an amazing opportunity.”

Request information about an Arizona Teachers Academy at ASU scholarship. 

Learn more about earning your teaching certificate

There are many paths to pursuing a career as a certified teacher.

 Undergraduate degrees and certificates: https://education.asu.edu/degree-programs/undergraduate-programs

 Remote options for graduate students:

https://education.asu.edu/asu-sync-masters

 All master’s degrees:

https://education.asu.edu/degree-programs/graduate-programs/masters-degrees

 Graduate certificates:

https://education.asu.edu/degree-programs/graduate-programs/graduate-certificates

 

 

 

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