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Pionero Scholars Program

Creating a local pipeline of teacher candidates who plan to teach in the Nashville area community.

The Pionero Scholars Program is a scholarship and outreach program at Lipscomb that seeks to increase the number of local students who enroll at Lipscomb, with the long-term goal of creating a local pipeline of students returning to teach in their home communities.

In the News!

Recruiting teachers in general must become a focus for Colleges of Education – enrollment in teacher preparation programs is at its lowest point in 45 years. (1) Each year Metro Nashville begins the school year with over 100 empty classrooms as there is a mismatch between teachers graduating with degrees and the needs of the district. Beyond that, the diversity of our teaching population is an important topic nationwide – low-income students, first generation students, students of color, male students, and English Language Learners need role models in their schools who understand where they come from and the challenges they are overcoming.

In Metro Nashville Public Schools, only 20% of teachers in 2015-2016 were male. (2) In terms of racial & ethnic diversity nationwide, while the numbers have steadily improved, nationwide teachers of color only make up 17% of the workforce. Meanwhile, the population of students of color is growing even faster – minority students now account for more than half of all public school students. (2) Also, almost one in four (12 million) schoolchildren ages 5 to 17 speak a language other than English at home, according to an analysis of census figures. (3) In Nashville, we are home to a vibrant and rapidly growing immigrant and refugee population, with sizeable communities of Kurdish, Egyptian, Mexican, Central American, Somali, Sudanese, Burmese, Thai, Laotian, and other nationalities from around the world. There are over 24,000 English Language Learners in Metro Nashville Public Schools, and the most diverse high school in the state of Tennessee, Overton High School, boasts over 60 languages spoken. (4)

Research has demonstrated that as a teacher population in a school becomes more diverse,  all students in the school show positive gains in test scores, attention, retention, and college persistence. (Pitts, 2007). We believe that local students who grew up in Nashville have a unique perspective on working in communities with so much religious, ethnic, nationality, income, and linguistic diversity. We believe that local students, regardless of their own background, will ready to hit the ground running as teachers, confident in the context and strengths of their community.

Sources:

  1. NEA Today March 2016 
  2. IncluCivics Report by Metro Nashville Human Relations Commission
  3. Shanker Institute Report 
  4. The Tennessean

Meet Our Scholars

Fatima Headshot

Fatima

Sandra Headshot

Sandra

Karen Headshot

Karen

Layla Headshot

Layla

Britney Headshot

Britney

Pionero Scholars Alumni

Cicela Headshot

Cicela

Erikka Headshot

Erikka

Pionero Scholarship

About

About the Scholarship

Each year, the Pionero Scholars Program awards three to six students an academic merit renewable scholarships of up to $10,000 per student. In order to be considered, students must meet the listed qualifications and complete the application and interview process listed here on our website.

During their undergraduate career, Pionero students participate in fun group activities, receive academic support, and are provided with an on-campus upperclassmen mentor as well as a faculty mentor. As upperclassmen, Pionero students receive a mentor that is a current or former classroom teacher to help them navigate Education specific courses and decisions.

To maintain the scholarship, Pionero students must maintain a 3.0 GPA and meet program requirements such as attendance in group meetings, support with recruitment events with the Pionero Program, and complete 5 service hours per semester.

Applicant Qualifications

Students must:

  • Be a graduate of a public high school in Nashville, Cheatham, Robertson, Rutherford, Sumner, Wilson, or Williamson counties
  • Have an interest in being a future teacher
  • Be a US citizen, permanent resident, DACAmented, or other status with work authorization
  • Be admitted to Lipscomb University
  • Testing requirements: either a) score a minimum of a 21 on the ACT or b) take one of the CORE Praxis exams required to become an Education major (you may select reading, writing, or math). If you did not score a 21 on the ACT, please contact Ms. Laura Delgado for help with the CORE Praxis exam; the exam is free to you!

Preference will be given to: 

  • students with a socio-economic disadvantage, taking into consideration such factors as the net income and net worth of the student's parents or guardian(s); the occupation(s) of the student’s parents or guardian(s); the structure of the student’s family, the academic quality of the secondary school from which the student graduated, and the quality and average income level of the neighborhood in which the student’s family lives;
  • students who are among the first generation in their family to attend college; and
  • students who are under-represented in the Lipscomb student body population.
Apply

The Pionero scholarship invites students graduating from a public high school in Davidson, Cheatham, Robertson, Rutherford, Sumner, Wilson, or Williamson counties to apply!

You can apply for the Pionero scholarship along with other College of Education scholarships through the Lipscomb Educator Scholars process! This streamlined process means you apply once and are then evaluated for all scholarships the College of Education has for which you may be eligible! 

Each student is asked to:

  • Submit the online application at bit.ly/LUeduscholars
  • If requested, submit a supplemental short essay
  • If requested, take a CORE Praxis exam (on reading, math, or writing)
    • Participate in an in-person interview day
    • Ensure they have completed their Lipscomb application 

Please note that students who have NOT submitted a complete application to Lipscomb for general admission when the Selection Committee meets cannot be considered for the scholarship.

 

Spring 2023 Timeline

  • Application Deadline Feb 24th
  • Interview Day Thursday, March 9th
  • Notification March 31st
  • May 1 final acceptance deadline for all students

 

Please contact Program Director Ms. Delgado at laura.delgado@lipscomb.edu if you are interested in applying or learning more.