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Soldiers To Scholars

UCF seeks role models for black kids

The Orlando Sentinel (Monday, August 14th)
Location in Publication: Page 1, Local & State

By: Shirish Date

Wanted: Black men who lost a military or defense jobĀ and want to study to be teachers.

The University of Central Florida is looking tonight for a few good African-American ex-soldiers, and ex-defense contractors who want to become teachers. And while they’re learning how, they will serve as role models in a neighborhood that, until recently, was among Orlando’s most drug infested.

In a joint project at UCF and the State, the university wants anyone who lost a military job – black males are preferred but others are welcome – to learn how to be a teacher. While attending college they will live in the Rio Grande Apartments, which before a recent cleanup was the site it persistent drug-trafficking.

“We’re trying to reclaim the inner city by having African-American military people model behavior for the community.” said state Rep. Alzo Reddick, D-Orlando.

Black teachers, particularly men, are needed in schools because they am sorely underrepresented in the profession, according to studies. One 1994 ‘survey found that less than 26 percent of the 4.2 million teachers in the country are male, and 9.3 percent are black. A 1992 survey found that black children make up 13 percent of students in kindergarten through 12th grade. “We’re encouraging African-American males” to apply, Reddick said.

Applicants must have lost a defense-related job either in the military or with a defense contractor, hold a high school degree with a 2.5 grade-point average or better and live in Florida. Those who already have their bachelor’s degrees will study for their Florida teaching certification

Although no tuition assistance .is offered, those who take part are eligible for subsidies of up to $200 a month, depending on their financial situation, toward the $400 to $500 rent.

Reddick said that although the financial inducement isn’t much, those who fit the bill should apply, ‘both to help themselves and help young people in the neighborhood, grow up around strong, self-disciplined men and women.

Charles Hite program manager for Defense Transition Services said UCF’s contract with the state calls for at least 40 students in the program by the end of September but they will take more. “We’ll take as many as we can get,” Hite said.

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