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Future teachers bring economy $39 million

On January 29, 2014

The teachers of Florida’s next generation have entered the workforce and already made a lasting economic impact - to the tune of $39 million to be exact, according to a recent study featured by the College of Education and Human Performance on its website.

The number from this annual study was quantified by multiplying the number of students who complete the experiential learning requirements by the number of hours that were spent in the classroom.

That number was then multiplied by $18.85, the national average dollar amount that volunteers are worth, acquired by the Dollar Value of Volunteering for the state of Florida.

Bryan Zugelder, executive director of undergraduate affairs and partnerships for the College of Education and Human Performance, broke down the final total from this economic impact study into two parts: the value of students undergoing the experiential learning regimen and the value of the programs offered to practicing educators.

“Before we found this rate, actually, I personally surveyed principals, teachers, district administrators and said, ‘What dollar amount would you put on our students going into schools?’” Zugelder said.

While some felt that the rate should be equivalent to that of a substitute teacher or an instructional assistant, other educators felt differently.

“Others said, ‘Oh no, the rate should be of a beginning teacher because they have all the training that a beginning teacher would have,” he said.

Students undergoing experiential learning can be placed in one of 14 different school districts in the Central Florida area that the college is partnered with – a total of 455 different schools.

The economic impact study was based on the rates and hours from the 2012-13 academic school year and involves all of the organizations that the College of Education and Human Performance works with, Zugelder said.

These organizations include Orange County Public Schools, Seminole County Public Schools, and certain mental health agencies among others.

Enrique Puig, director of the Morgridge International Reading Center, said that the number will only increase in the 2013-14 study.

“It actually has grown, even from the original study to now. We’re reinvesting, so to speak, this much money back into the district or back into the state of Florida,” Puig said. “We are working with teacher candidates to produce future teachers that really fit in beautifully with what the state and with what the country is pushing for. A big push at the [College of Education and Human Performance] is to exceed the community’s expectations.”

Richard Sloane, director of community relations, agrees that the initial amount researched is only going to increase as years pass.

“The value that is used to calculate the final figure, when you plug in the dollar amount, that’s a revision as the economy, locally and nationally, changes,” Sloane said. “The other thing is, as our enrollment increases, it’s going to increase the number of students who are out in those roles, and as our service to practicing educators develops and evolves, that too might increase the figure.”

First-year kindergarten teacher Emily Jaworski has noted that the dollar amount is bound to increase as the standards of education at UCF, as well as the rest of the country, increase.

“There’s always room for growth and improvement. As UCF becomes more popular, the number of people coming in will increase … which will lead to a more successful graduating class,” Jaworski said.

After graduating in December 2013 with a degree in early childhood education, Jaworski has already begun teaching at Stephen Foster Elementary School in Gainesville.

“I think that, especially in my situation -- graduating in the middle of an academic year and receiving multiple job offers -- I think that it just goes to show how well prepared [UCF] made me to move forward in my career,” she said. “In my program especially, it prepared me for interviews and for what to expect in the classroom.”

With the college constantly reassessing its economic impact, Sloane believes that the program adequately prepares students for an even greater opportunity to impact the local economy.

“If you look at how far has public education student performance achievement increased in Florida and in Central Florida, that’s attributable to the people that are coming out of this school going into those classrooms and/or the practicing educators who are coming back here and sharpening their skills. You can’t put a dollar figure on that,” Sloane said. “But, you can when you say that we’re producing children who are workforce ready, career ready, better than before. That’s very much a factor in the region’s economy. A lot of people lose sight of the fact that if this whole structure of the Central Florida economy exists, that it rests on a foundation of education.”


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