Job prospects look brighter for minority pre-service teachers after FFMT symposium

Several of the 26 UF students who have received Florida Fund for Minority Teacher scholarships say they were impressed with this year’s FFMT-sponsored Teacher Recruitment and Professional Development Symposium.

FFMT for web

Among the 26 UF students who attended the recently held Florida Fund for Minority Teachers symposium were Aida Valdes (from left), Alexis Potter, Jessica Vera Garcia, Samantha Cordero, Monique Levy and Suntrell Butler.

The 16th annual event, held on consecutive weekends at the University of Central Florida and Florida A&M and Florida Memorial universities, featured recruitment fairs that focused on placing minority teachers in classrooms throughout Florida’s 67 school districts.

Students said they left the symposium feeling confident about their ability to pursue teaching careers, including Aida Valdes, a junior in the UF ProTeach program who is majoring in elementary education.

“I got really energized after I went to a mock job interview breakout session,” Valdes said. “There were two people role playing as interviewers, and at first they asked some standard questions — but then the questions got tougher. I needed that perspective.”

FeIlow junior Jessica Vera Garcia, also a ProTeach elementary education major, said she left the symposium feeling confident that she is on the right career path.

“Overall, it was one of the best professional experiences I’ve ever had,” Garcia said. “The job recruiters told me I’m headed in the right direction.”

Since the Florida Legislature created FFMT in 1996, the program has disbursed more than $36 million in scholarships to minority education students at public and private colleges and universities throughout Florida. More than 3,500 recipients have gone on to teach in Florida’s public school classrooms.

FFMT is housed in the College of Education’s office for Recruitment, Retention and Multicultural Affairs, where Michael Bowie serves as the program’s executive director. COE Dean Glenn Good is chairman of the FFMT board of directors.

Bowie said the event has continued to grow in size and in importance to aspiring teachers.

“Our scholars are passionate about learning their craft,” Bowie said. “The scholars, the school districts, the institutions and our board members all welcome the symposiums each year.

The workshops supplement the incredible pedagogy being taught at the participating institutions, and many students left the events with contracts,” he added. “The school districts are always impressed with our scholars — their quality, qualifications and professionalism.”

More information about the FFMT and the scholarship program can be found online at

   Source: Cheryl Williams, UF College of Education liaison;; phone 352-273-4364.
   Liaison: Larry Lansford, director, College of Education Office of News and Communications;; phone 352-273-4137.
   Writer: Stephen Kindland, College of Education Office of News and Communications;; phone 352-273-3449.