First WGU, Alpine School District scholarship presented to ASD paraeducator

Local leaders from Western Governors University (WGU) and the Alpine School District surprised Tristan Chile with the first Pathway to Become a Teacher Scholarship in her classroom Friday morning.  

A paraeducator at Barratt Elementary, Chile is pursuing a Master of Arts in Teaching, Elementary Education after seeing a poster in the faculty lounge promoting the scholarship.  

“I was quite worried about the cost of going back to school and incurring debt, but I knew that with a scholarship, it may be feasible,” Chile said. “Without having to earn another bachelor’s degree, I wanted to find a master’s program where I could gain strong, research-based pedagogical knowledge. I am ready to begin training for a career in teaching.” 

The partnership between WGU and Alpine School District encourages faculty and staff to pursue high-quality, respected credentials through the online, nonprofit university. The benefits to district employees include fee waivers and exclusive scholarship opportunities. 

“This is the first tangible impact of the partnership as we work to help build our teacher pipeline,” said Cami Larsen, Executive Director of Human Resources at Alpine School District. “Our partnership with WGU helps us continue to deliver the best outcomes for the students and families we serve.” 

Valued up to $5,000, nine additional Alpine employees will be selected to receive this award to be applied to an approved, WGU bachelor’s or master’s degree program. Additionally, Alpine employees are eligible to apply for the $2,500 WGU K-12 Partner Scholarship. Both scholarships are intended to lower the financial barrier to a university degree and reward current and prospective teachers for their commitment to educating young people. 

“We are thrilled to surprise Tristan with the Pathway to Become a Teacher scholarship today,” said Ismar Vallecillos, director of WGU’s Northwest Region. “The teacher shortage we’re seeing affects the future of the state, and WGU wants to empower passionate district employees to further their education and training.” 

As a nonprofit institution, WGU is committed to keeping tuition costs low. Most WGU degree programs are approximately $7,500 per year – about half as much as comparable universities. Its online, competency-based model allows students to study and learn whenever and wherever it is convenient and at a pace that fits their lifestyles. The university is well-suited for busy, working adults, as well as traditionally underserved student populations.