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The first-ever teacher residency program in Phoenix is ready to launch

The program is funded through federal relief and recovery funds and will create opportunities for roughly 30 people who desire a career in education.

PHOENIX — The education community and Northern Arizona University are rallying together to ensure students have the best teachers guiding them through the most impactful years of their life.

The first-ever teacher residency program in Phoenix is launching, providing opportunities for those seeking a career in education to become part of the solution to the teacher shortage.

"Every child deserves a great teacher," NAU President José Luis Cruz Rivera explained.

Educational advocates like Rivera are looking to redefine teaching and how people get into the field.

"Ensuring our students get the education they need, but who are also committed to ensuring that through their efforts they're doing all they can to eradicate educational inequities and eliminate opportunity gaps," he explained.

According to the Learning Policy Institute, 70% to 80% of residency graduates are still in the classroom after five years. Teacher residencies also successfully recruit a more racially diverse teaching force. 

While 80% of our nation's teachers are white, 62% of residents affiliated with the National Center for Teacher Residencies identify as people of color. Teacher residencies also boost student achievement. 

A study of the Boston Teacher Residency found that over time, graduates of the program advance student achievement more than their counterparts from other programs.

The teacher residency program is funded through federal relief and recovery funds and will create opportunities for roughly 30 people who desire a career in education.

"This program helps lower the financial barriers that prevent some from entering teacher preparation programs," Rivera added.

Dr. Kathy Wiebke with the Arizona K12 Center, a huge non-profit player in this new program, said this 2-year process is proven to recruit, retain and repair all things teaching, for the betterment of students and staff.

"Teacher residencies are a strong model for boosting teacher retention," she said. "What will set the Arizona Teacher residency apart from others, is the Arizona K12 Center, residents will have access to highly trained and effective mentors to help support their first, days and months as a teacher."

One of the goals, State Superintendent Kathy Hoffman said, is garnering interest from diverse groups, to give students more familiarity when face to face with their teacher.

"The program will focus on recruiting, preparing and supporting qualified teachers in Title One schools, especially teachers of color, and hard to staff positions like special education and S.T.E.M."

This is something school officials have been working toward for more than ten years, yielding to nothing, when it comes to helping Arizona's teachers, which they say, starts with what's best for the students.

For more details, visit the Arizona Teacher Residency website at azk12.org/AZTR.

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