Head Start teachers seeking to further their education will get a helping hand from a $325,000 federal grant recently received by the University of Alaska Southeast.
The funds will go toward three meetings around the state next spring designed to aid Head Start educators, many of whom are Natives, meet new federal requirements.
Grant manager Margaret Grogan said the federal government, which oversees the Head Start school-preparation program for children ages 3 to 5, has mandated that one-half of the staff at each one of their sites would have an associate degree by 2003.
UAS started offering a distance education program for an early childhood education associate of applied science degree. About 75 students are enrolled, and Grogan estimated another 50 are in the application process.
Grogan said many in the degree program have little college experience and many other responsibilities.
"It's understandably hard for them," she said. "They work full time, they have a family, they have obligations to their community. Working on this program is hard."
The grant will fund meetings in May in St. Marys, Anchorage and Sitka, Grogan said.
The meetings will bring together Head Start teachers, UAS faculty, village elders and others to talk about the teachers' education.