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Newly Approved Student Teaching Stipends Provide Much Needed Support for Education Students

Teacher Stipends in PA

March 20, 2024

“Teaching is the backbone of everything. It is work people should be encouraged to do.” Those inspirational words from Zoe Boynton, a junior, BS in elementary education major, echoed through the auditorium at Science Leadership Academy at Beeber. Zoe, joined by her fellow classmates, many of whom will be starting their teacher residencies next year, joined lawmakers and school leaders to advocate for additional funding to support stipends for student teachers in Pennsylvania.

Last December, the Commonwealth approved a bipartisan bill drafted by senators Vincent Hughes and Ryan Aument that provides $10 million in funding for stipends to student teachers. Beginning in the 2024-2025 school year, student teachers will receive $10,000-$15,000 if they work in a high-needs district and promise to teach in Pennsylvania for three years. Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro proposed to increase the amount of funding for the program to $15 million in next year’s budget.

For many students, the stipends are a dire need to help them cover their expenses during their required full-time student teaching experience. Student teaching is unpaid and requires students to be in the classroom full-time. “It is one of the barriers many future teachers will face, and, for some, it means they cannot complete their certification, while for others it means working to make ends meet while also teaching full time,” said Boynton.

Student teaching stipends are among many programs the state budget supports to address a growing shortage of teachers in Pennsylvania. Recent research found that the Commonwealth saw a 70% drop in teacher licenses issued between 2011-2022.

The School of Education, in partnership with the School District of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Department of Education, has created pipelines to enable students with bachelor’s degrees to earn middle level and secondary teacher certification in high need subjects like STEM and English through its Philadelphia Teacher Residency program.

“At Drexel, we are committed to building upon the intentional teacher pipelines we have constructed in partnership with the School District of Philadelphia that prepare teachers specifically to teach in Philadelphia not just for one year to get their feet wet, but to ignite a passion in our preservice teachers to learn and grow in Philadelphia and then as in-service teachers, to remain, be retained, establish roots, and ultimately, build their long-term successful careers in Philadelphia public schools,” said Sarah Ulrich, EdD, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs for the School of Education.

Drexel is also exploring ways to support teachers after they complete their certification through professional and leadership development and other programs to ensure teachers excel through the early portion of their career and remain in the profession.

Said Ulrich, “our goal is to align our teacher preparation programs in higher education with the induction, the coaching, and the supports of new teachers that they are provided in in their first, very critical, three years in the classroom.”

For Boynton, becoming a teacher is a dream. She, like many education students, felt inspired by teachers who believed in them and supported them on their educational journey. She hopes that through programs that support teachers and provide equitable, high quality learning opportunities for children, she will be able to inspire her future students.

Boynton says, “I look forward to making my dreams come true like my teacher told me I could, and I am so grateful that barriers like this are being broken down in the educational community to allow student teachers like me and preservice teachers like me to accomplish our dreams of becoming teachers.”