Frequently Asked Questions
1) I have been out of school for a while and it will be difficult to get the academic references. Can I substitute professional references for the academic ones?
Answer:While we prefer at least one academic reference, we realize that most RPCV's have been out of school for several years so we will accept professional appraisals as substitutions for academic ones. However, please make sure these are professional references from people who were in a position to supervise and comment on your work. This is not the place for affirming letters from friends, neighbors and family members.
2) I have received a letter of admission from the university. Does this mean I am admitted to the PCCF program?
Answer: No. The admissions process for the Fellows program is a three-step process. First, you are admitted to the WNMU Graduate Division. The letter from the WNMU admissions office at the WNMU Silver City campus does not admit you to the Fellows program, just to Western New Mexico University.
The second phase of the admission process is to the actual WNMU-Gallup Fellows Program. This admission letter to the WNMU-Gallup Peace Corps Coverdell Fellows program will come from Scott Farver, Program Director, and/or the Graduate Assistant at WNMU-Gallup.
The third phase is admission to the School of Education. This step comes after being accepted into the Fellows program and is completed during your first semester at WNMU-Gallup.
3) I am interested in the program. How can I get an application?
Contact the graduate assistant via e-mail at email@example.com
4) May I apply on-line?
Answer: We would prefer for you to complete a paper copy of the WNMU graduate school application and send or fax it to WNMU-Gallup (Address below), so we know who has applied for the Fellows Program. Graduate School Applications completed online go directly to the Silver City campus, which delays the PCCF application process.
Most PCCF applications materials can be accessed and downloaded from the WNMU-Gallup website You are free to direct your references to the on-line recommendation form. Although most forms cannot be completed directly on-line, forms can be download, completed as word documents, and returned by email as attachments to firstname.lastname@example.org It is therefore possible to complete most of the application process from afar by email or fax. Paper copies can be sent to Western New Mexico University, c/o Peace Corps Coverdell Fellows Program, 2055 State Road 602, Gallup , NM 87301 505 722 3389 | fax: 505 722 3195
5)May I fax my application to WNMU-Gallup?
Answer:Yes, everything but official transcripts may be faxed to 505 722-3195. Please put attn: PCC Fellows Program.
6) Do I have to take the GRE's?
Answer:Fellows seeking a MAT or MA in education must meet university graduate admission requirements. These include a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with a 3.0 GPA for your last 64 hours, generally your junior and senior year of undergraduate work. If you have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 for your last 64 hours, you are exempt from the GRE. Students with a GPA of 3.00 to 2.75 (last 64 hours) may be granted provisional admission AND are required to take the GRE.
7) How much will it cost to attend WNMU-Gallup?
Answer:Western New Mexico University offers competitive tuition at around $200 per credit hour. You should factor in books, which average approximately $125 per course. Please note that tuition is increased by the State legislature every year between 2 and 5%. You can plan on spending less than $10,000 for your Masters degree.
8) Will I need to apply or financial aide to attend Western?
Answer:That depends on how much money you need to live on. Teachers make a mimimum of $30,000 per year through the local school district. Figure up your debt to income ratio and talk to the School District Personnel Office about an average take home check after deductions for a first year teacher. Then factor in rent. Rent in Gallup average $500.00 month for an apartment or small rental house. If you teach at a rural school, rent in a teacherage can be relatively inexpensive ($100.00 - $275.00 a month). Several Fellows in town have sought financial assistance because of their debt to income ration. Grants and scholarships for incoming graduate students are limited. However, we help you become aware of opportunities as they arise. If you need financial aid loans, you must complete the federal FAFSA which available on-line http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/ Students may also be eligible for loan forgiveness as teacher in a high-need area. You may check here for more information
9) What does WNMU-Gallup stand for?
Answer:The Western New Mexico University- Gallup is an extended university campus of Western New Mexico University, Silver City, New Mexico (about 4 - 5 hours south of Gallup). Western New Mexico University is 115 years old. On February 11, 1893, the Thirtieth Session of the Territorial Legislature of New Mexico passed "An Act to Establish and Provide for the Maintenance and Government of the Normal Schools of New Mexico" in Silver City and Las Vegas. Normal School were the original teacher training institutions. The WNMU-Gallup was established in 1984 at the request of a local area school district.
10) As a PRCV, what are the elgibility requirements for applying for a Fellows program?
Answer:All returned Peace Corps Coverdell Volunteers who satisfactorily complete their service have lifetime eligibility for Fellow/USA.
Satisfactory completion means you:
- completed the full two-year tour of Peace Corps Coverdell service, or the full tour minus up to 90 days if you returned home on an emergency leave;
- were granted "Early Close of Service" or "Interrupted Service" status due to circumstances beyond your control; or
- were medically separated as a Volunteer.
11) How long does the program take?
Answer:This depends on your program and how many classes you decide to take each semester. Most people in the program 2 classes (6 hours) a semester during the academic year and 6 hours during the summer. If you are not already a licensed teacher, you have three years to complete the program. If you are a licensed teacher, your time at WNMU-Gallup will depend on the number of courses you take each semester. The average PCCF takes three years to complete the Masters degree. The current hours for each program can be found under each heading on the WNMU-Gallup website
12) What does the fellows program play in my career as a teacher?
Answer:While you will have many roles here, consider yourself first as a teacher. You will be coming to the area to work as an educator. You are also a graduate student in the evening and on weekends. The Fellows program is more of a support system for each of the above endeavors. The Fellows also try to be a positive force in the community through service projects and other activities.
13) How many fellows are in the WNMU-Gallup program? Where do they work?
Answer:During the 2013-2013 academic year, WNMU-Gallup had 18 Fellows. They live throughout the area with some in Gallup and others out on the Navajo Nation. The average incoming cohort is between 5-10 Fellows.
14) I don't have a teaching degree. May I still apply?
Answer: Absolutely! Our MAT Elementary, Secondary and Special Education programs are specifically designed for people who do not have a teaching degree or license. After being accepted into the program and obtaining a full-time teaching position, your school and school district will assist you in obtaining a pre-level I license. This license is good for three years, after which you must apply for a level I license (which is obtained through after completing course work at WNMU-Gallup).
15) I have a teaching degree and/ or license. May I still apply?
Answer:Yes! We also offer a MA in Interdisciplinary Studies. This allows you to choose 23 areas of concentration, such as Reading, Special Education, Bi-lingual Education or Educational Leadership. You will still need to go through the application process and secure a full-time teaching position in the local area.
16) I have a teaching license from another state. How do I apply for a New Mexico teaching license?
Answer:Contact the New Mexico Public Education Department. They have the final word on all teaching licenses. You can contact them via e-mail at email@example.com or by visiting the NMPED Licensure website.
17) When should I submit my application for employment for the Gallup McKinley County School District?
Answer:You should complete your NMREAP application once you are accepted into the Fellows program. You can start working on it as soon as you submit your Fellows application. Once completed, let the school district personnel office know, so that they can make it available to Principals. You might start receiving phone calls from principals trying to interview you right after you submit it for the current year. We distribute a list of the Fellows (with brief information about your teaching preferences, background, and contact information) to area principals announcing each new cohort.
Principals do a majority of the hiring in the summer starting in May and continuing through August. You should actively monitor the district websites for vacancies and proactively call the principals of the schools to tell them you are interested in a particular position. Also be open to their suggestions that you consider another grade opening they might have.
Incoming Fellows who are still overseas in their Peace Corps Coverdell assignments have had good experiences talking with Principals long distance. You really have to proactively work your contacts. If you are interested in a school that does not have a vacancy listed, still call the principal and ask, you just might get lucky! Generally current Fellows are willing to house new Fellows for a few days if you would like to visit in May or June to visit schools face to face. Please visit the GMCS website for more information about vacancies. http://www.gmcs.k12.nm.us.
18) What if I cannot find employment with the district?
Answer:Then you will not be able to participate in the Fellows program. However, since the inception of the WNMU-PCF program, we have had a great track record of helping Fellows find teaching positions in the area. Every accepted Fellow who has proactively stuck with the job search process has been able to secure a position.
With our support, you do the leg work to locate and follow up on vacancies advertised on the Gallup McKinley County School (GMCS) district, Window Rock Unified School District (WRUSD) and Zuni Public Schools (ZPS) websites and the work of contacting principals at individual schools. While there are vacancies listed all year long, the majority of openings appear May through July. These districts are teacher- shortage districts.
19) Where could I end up working?
Answer:This answer varies and is related to your qualifications and interests. It helps to come in with a clear idea of several grades and subjects you would like to teach. Note: to teach a content area at the secondary level, you must have 30 college credits in that content area. You should also give some thought to whether you would like to work in town (Gallup), on the Navajo Nation, or in the Zuni Pueblo. We have Fellows teaching at all levels within area school K12 systems (depending on qualifications). See the testimonials of current Fellows for more information on where they work.
20) Who would be my students?
Answer:It depends on where you teach. This area is very diverse. There are a high percentage of Navajo children in the schools located on and off the Navajo Nation. You can also expect a diverse class with children of Hispanic, Caucasian, Zuni, Navajo, Arab American, and African American ethnicities. Overall, developing culturally relevant lesson plans for your students is necessary.
21) What am I qualified to teach?
Answer:This depends on your undergraduate degree. For Secondary you must have 30 hours in a specific area to be able to teach that area. For example, if you wish to be a science teacher you must have 30 undergraduate hours in that area, 12 lower level and 12 upper level courses. You should contact the New Mexico Public Education Department as to whether your hours can be applied towards a certain content area. You may send them e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
22) Can I visit, or take a campus tour to determine if Gallup would be the right place for me?
Answer:We encourage you to visit! If you would like further information about a visit please send an e-mail to email@example.com We are happy to assist you and answer all questions. The WNMU - PCCF community, including WNMU-Gallup faculty, is very welcoming and eager to meet with you. We want you to learn as much as possible about the program and area so you can make a good decision about the match between your interests and the WNMU PCCF program.
23) What is the difference between living in Gallup versus living on the reservation?
Answer:There are pro's and cons to living in each area. The Navajo Nation is more rural while Gallup has the amenities of a small town. There are not a lot of consumer conveniences in many communities on the Navajo Nation. Some communities have a gas station, small convenience store, and Laundromat, but you are more likely to have the opportunity to get to know a wider variety of Navajo people. Housing is cheaper on the Navajo Nation, although you might spend more money in gas commuting into Gallup for class, entertainment, and supplies. Living in Gallup is more expensive, but there are more amenities available (stores, restaurants, coffee shops, movie theaters, and so forth). GMCS has a website with videos and testimonials that show the difference, http://teachgmcs.org
24) Do I have to buy a car or can I ride my bike?
Answer:A few Fellows that live and teach in town depend totally on their bikes for transportation, but this is rare and challenging in the Gallup winter. There is not a public transportation system. Gallup is at high altitude, quite hilly, has few bike paths in town, and can have a harsh winter. If you live and teach out of town, you will need a vehicle. Gallup is a major spot on the old Route 66, people in the West are used to driving distances to visit friends, shop, or just get out of town for a weekend.
25) What do Fellows do in their free time or for fun?
Answer:Free time? Some Fellows might say they don't have much free time because they teach during the day and attend classes in the evenings and on weekends! About once a month, there is a required all-Fellows activity. This could be a hike, potluck, bowling, or service project. The gatherings are a way to get to know each other and explore Gallup. We also get together to do community service projects.
Individually, fellows do all kinds of things for fun. Many people are drawn to the area for outdoor recreational opportunities and breath-taking natural beauty! There is an extensive system of mountain bike and hiking trails and exercise options, including an indoor pool for lap swimming. People attend rodeos, pow-wows, athletic events, live music performances, the downtown summer performances by local Native American dance groups, movies, the annual Hot Air Red Rock Balloon Rally, enjoy the monthly downtown Art Crawl, check out Native American art, and attend the world famous annual Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial. There are two movie theaters, one with 5 screens and the other with 6 screens in stadium style seating. Gallup is a great jumping off point to explore the Grand Canyon, Chaco Canyon, Canyon De Chelly, the Petrified Forest, El Morro, and other sites. Like anyone else, Fellows pursue their own hobbies.
26) Will I have easy access to supplies (like food, things for the house, ways to get my car fixed)?
Answer:Although Gallup has a population of 20,000, it is the retail center for up to 100,000 people on a pay weekend. Gallup has one of the busiest Wal-Marts west of the Mississippi River, many grocery stores, and just about any fast-food franchise you can think of. It also has a small mall with a JC Penny and others smaller national clothes and athletic shoe retailers. There are numerous car dealerships. There are many Laundromats and car/truck wash businesses, as many people in the outlying areas do not have running water. Gallup has two hospitals and a robust medical community for a community of this size. Many locally owned family restaurants are quite famous for their New Mexican red and green chili specialties. You will quickly choose sides on the best place for a breakfast burrito. There is food a co-op and a variety of coffee shops with wireless capability. Some Fellows go to Albuquerque to get their car serviced, purchase specialty items, and see live music or theatre performances, which is 2 hour drive. If you would like more information about the amenities offered in Gallup then visit the website at: http://www.ci.gallup.nm.us/index.htm
Disclaimer: The Gallup McKinley County School District is the largest district in the continental United States . The answers to these FAQ's may vary depending on where you are employed. Most of these questions have general answers.