Montana educators working in high-needs communities who are seeking an early childhood education master’s degree or endorsement for teaching preschool through 3rd grade are eligible to apply for a full tuition scholarship to attend a Montana college or university, Governor Steve Bullock and Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau announced.
“This scholarship opportunity means more Montana teachers will have access to furthering their careers, at the same time the state builds its capacity to provide a quality education to young children,” Juneau said.
Montana is one of just eight states that doesn’t offer public preschool to all children. The 2015 Legislature didn’t provide funding to create an early education program, but Montana applied for and received a preschool development grant to expand access to learning programs in targeted high-needs communities. That $10 million-per-year grant will support programs this fall in places like Great Falls, Anaconda, Browning and Lewistown. The grant funding also pays the tuition for educators seeking the specialized preschool-3rd grade, or P-3 endorsement.
The grant is a collaboration among the Governor’s Office, Office of Public instruction and Department of Public Health and Human Services.
“Through these scholarships, we will grow and strengthen our early childhood workforce, ensuring that more young learners in Montana — particularly those in at-risk communities — will have the benefit of high-quality educators,” Bullock noted. “This is an incredible opportunity for individuals who are looking to further their education and for the children and families who will ultimately be served by great teachers in high-quality preschool programs.”
The Montana Early Childhood Project at Montana State University is administering the scholarships. The competitive application process is open to educators currently working at least 15 hours per week in a classroom setting, those who are current on the Montana Early Care and Education Practitioner Registry, and educators who have a minimum 2.5 GPA for previous coursework. Priority will be given to individuals teaching in the grant-targeted programs and communities.
“Research consistently shows children who attend a quality preschool program are more likely to graduate from high school, achieve higher academic success, and are more likely to succeed in their careers,” Juneau said. “It’s great that Montana teachers will now have the opportunity to receive the training required to begin building a preschool program that’s accessible to more families.”
Earlier this month, the Montana Board of Public Education approved the new P-3 endorsement opportunity available at some state colleges.
For more information, visit the Office of Public Instruction’s website, here.