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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.


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

Meet your Recruiter

Pionero holds a special place in my heart, not only as the Scholars Recruiter, but as a Pionero Alumni. When I was a student here, Pionero helped me in ways I will always be grateful for. After graduating from Lipscomb, I went on to teach for 3 years in MNPS, so I have an educational and professional background that helps me be a resource for future students. Pionero opened the door to my educational experience and teaching experience as a whole. This scholarship is more than just financial aid, it is a community of students and staff who are dedicated to bringing resources and experiences into the classroom. As a first generation student myself, I know it can get stressful navigating through college. I am beyond excited to extend my helping hand to future generations of Pioneros - whether that be helping you submit your college application to helping you draft your essay or filling out FAFSA or even finding your classes. Never be embarrassed to ask for my help. My job is made for you, so use me as a resource whenever possible. Thank you for letting me be a part of your college experience! I am so thrilled to work alongside you!

In appreciation,
Alondra Piña

Meet Our Scholars

Fatima Headshot


Sandra Headshot


Layla Headshot


Britney Headshot


Pionero Scholars Alumni

Cicela Headshot


Erikka Headshot


Pionero Scholarship


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 Alondra Piña 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.

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 an online application through the Lipscomb Educator Scholars single-application process.
  • 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 

Apply Now

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.