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The Educators' Center at the University Center of Lake County

Updated: Oct 24, 2023


1200 University Center Dr., Grayslake, IL 60030


If you have been exploring the University Center website lately, you may have noticed a new tab on top for the Educators’ Center. Here’s a bit of history on the Educators’ Center.


Our History

The Educators’ Center was an initiative of the University Center (UCenter) in partnership with a group of UCenter member institutions, participating school districts, the Regional Office of Education, and College of Lake County. The initiative was funded by a HECA Educators Academy Grant in 2001.


All the way back in 2001, Lake County was facing significant challenges in hiring and retaining qualified P-16 teachers, especially in under-served and under-funded school districts. These challenges were not unique to Lake County. On a national level, the teacher shortage trends led President George W. Bush to sign into law the “No Child Left Behind Act” in January 2002. The goal of No Child Left Behind was to have a highly qualified teacher in every classroom by the end of the 2005-2006 school year. In 2002 the Educators’ Center group concluded it could significantly improve the recruitment and retention of qualified teachers.


Our Current Efforts Addressing Teacher Shortages

Fast forward to 2023 and we see that the nation and Illinois are still experiencing a critical teacher shortage no thanks to COVID. In a statewide survey completed in 2022, 88% of districts reporting said they had a shortage of full-time teachers ( Survey: Illinois schools face worsening educator shortage | WGLT)

So, what are the UCenter and the Educators’ Center doing to respond to the teacher shortage? The Educators’ Center is actively pursuing its missions to:

  1. Provide fall biennial needs assessment surveys to teachers and paraprofessionals (fall 2022) and superintendents/principals (fall 2023),

  2. Provide professional development options to teachers and administrators (check out this interview with Dr. Gabriel Cortez about his workshop on Building Community in the Classroom ),

  3. Provide teachers and administrators with information about advanced degrees and endorsements/certificates.

For its part, the UCenter is the starting point to get information about the many education programs available for Lake County teachers, administrators and future teachers through University Center. You can schedule an appointment to meet with a UCenter advisor to get all the information you’ll need to help you get started.


Helping Teachers Pay for College

Additionally, UCenter also has scholarships, information about outside scholarships, and FAFSA resources available. Thanks to a very generous donor, University Center offers the Paraprofessional Fellowship for a qualifying student who is currently enrolled in a University Center Education program and works as a paraprofessional. The scholarship will provide one recipient $7000 worth of financial support.


Undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in an Education program at University Center of Lake County can also apply for the University Center Student Scholarship. Up to four undergraduate and up to five graduate students can potentially receive $2000 each to pay for the cost of attending college here. The deadline for both scholarships is September 29, 2023.


The State of Illinois also recognizes the need for more teachers and offers several Illinois Scholarship Programs such as the Minority Teachers of Illinois Scholarship program, Illinois Special Education Teacher Tuition Waiver (SETTW) program, Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity (ECACE) Scholarship program, among many others.


Why University Center of Lake County

The University Center of Lake County was created with the adult learner in mind. What this means is that we understand the challenges of working full-time and desiring to have a full life while going back to college. For these reasons, our classes are offered in the evenings or weekends depending on the program. We typically try to offer more than one option per major or area of interest.


In a traditional college setting students may be required to attend a three-credit hour class, for example, three times a week during the day. At the University Center, our member universities schedule classes to meet once a week for three hours at a time and in the evening. This allows students to continue their education at their own pace as well. Depending on the university calendar, students can enroll in full semesters (16-weeks), quarter systems (10 weeks) or quad system (range from 6-, 7-, 8- week sessions).

Once you have met with a University Center advisor, our advisor will personally introduce you to the admissions representatives for the specific programs of interest to you. This helps to eliminate navigating complicated university systems and cuts to the chase.


So how does all this work?

Our students are fully enrolled at their chosen university who works closely to support their students. University Center has no access to the applications, student records, etc., of any member university or community college as University Center of Lake County is a nonprofit organization.


What does this mean for our students? It means that our students apply directly to the university, pay tuition and fees directly to the university of interest, and have access to all student support services such as advising, and career services offered by their university on the main campus. Additionally, when our students graduate, their diplomas will be conferred by the university they attended as the University Center does not confer degrees.


The University Center does not charge any fees to current or prospective students and offers much support. Our admissions advisors help prospective students narrow down which majors to choose from then personally introduce the student to the admissions representative for that program. Transfer students can take advantage of the many transfer programs that typically offer transfer scholarships as well. Our classes tend to be smaller in size allowing for a more personalized classroom experience and the opportunity to form professional relationships with future colleagues. All our students can take advantage of the study spaces throughout the building, which provides free wi-fi for all.


Getting Started

Given the many opportunities and support, why not check out these resources and schedule an appointment today with a University Center advisor at https://www.ucenter.org/request-info-prospective-student. Still have questions? Call at 847-665-4000 or check out our website at ucenter.org.

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