Support for Urban Education
Each year at the University of North Florida, hundreds of students graduate from the College of Education and Human Services, motivated to begin making a difference in children's lives. More than half of UNF's education graduates choose to stay local to teach, a reflection of the strong reciprocal partnerships between area school districts and the University.
Former Jacksonville Jaguars owner and philanthropist Wayne Weaver, an avid supporter of education initiatives, sees UNF's role in local
education as a critical one. "The key is a great teacher in every classroom and a great principal in every school," said Weaver. Both he and his wife, Delores, have dedicated resources to help make that happen.
The Urban Initiative Scholarship program at UNF provides scholarships to high school graduates who are inspired to teach and want to teach in local urban schools. Ten new students, motivated to be great teachers, joined the program this fall thanks to the generosity of Wayne Weaver. The goal of the program, now in its second year, is to diversify the teacher pipeline to better reflect PreK - 12 demographics in urban areas. After graduating, students in
the program immediately gain employment in Duval County schools, serving the growing need for qualified teachers.
"The pipeline of underrepresented populations pursuing careers in education is extremely important, particularly in Duval County," said Dr. Rudy Jamison, assistant director of UNF's Center for Urban Education and Policy. "We want those underperforming and under resourced schools to have better quality educators in front of our students. This is truly revolutionary work."
Shainique Flores, a freshman scholar in the program, looks forward to having the opportunity to impact lives as a teacher and wants to provide her future students with a supportive environment for learning. "Being able to learn from someone who has similar experiences and similar backgrounds definitely makes that teaching environment more comfortable for students," she said.
Flores first learned about UNF's education initiatives through the Bridges Summer Program, a two-week camp for rising high school seniors to experience college life and explore how teaching changes lives and transforms communities. Funded the past two years by the Delores Barr Weaver Fund, the program is just another example of the Weavers' tremendous support of local education and area students. In addition to attending as a high school student in 2019, Flores also worked as a program mentor this summer. She is grateful for the support that individuals like Delores and Wayne Weaver are providing to enhance education, and she is eager to make a difference in the classroom.
"I think it is so awesome," Flores said of her future career as an educator. "You can help students be anything they want to be. You can be their inspiration."