New NAU graduate teacher residency program hopes to combat state’s teacher shortage

There’s a new residency program to help better prepare our future teachers!
Published: Sep. 14, 2022 at 7:09 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Arizona has faced a teacher shortage for years, but that’s not stopping future teachers from wanting to be in the classroom. There’s a new residency program to help better prepare our future teachers!

The Arizona Department of Education teamed up with Northern Arizona University to create the Arizona Teacher Residency, the first official graduate teacher residency program in the state modeled after medical residences. “These residents are getting a whole year of pre-service preparation and classroom experience in a supportive environment before they even become a teacher of record so there’s a much longer runway before they get into the classroom than you see in other programs,” Victoria Theisen-Homer, Director of the Arizona Teacher Residency, said.

Almost two dozen aspiring teachers are in this new program where they get a master’s degree in Education from NAU, full scholarship, stipend, and years of mentorship. “They have just a wealth of folks that they’ll be able to draw on for years to come,” Theisen-Homer said.

One of the 23 teacher residents is Hector Campos who is back in his junior high social studies class with his former teacher. “As an educator, it’s amazing to know that your words, your lessons that you had an impact on somebody enough to make them want to join the profession which is not an easy profession,” Edgar Ochoa, a junior high social studies teacher at the Ed and Verma Pastor Elementary School, said.

After learning and growing in Ochoa’s class this school year, Campos will be in his own classroom next school year. “I really want to be a teacher. I think it’s a great job, especially with the students who need that support, who need that role model,” Campos said. Once the residents get their tuition-free master’s degree, they have to work an additional two years to fulfill their commitment.

The goal of the program is to give residents like Campos a strong teaching foundation so they remain in the profession. “Our teacher turnover is higher than any other state and so what we’re seeing here is a problem not only with recruitment, but also retention so our program addresses that by preparing teachers to stay in the classroom,” Victoria Theisen-Homer said.

Campos says he’s prepared to stay in the classroom for years and he’s looking forward to doing it at the school he attended. “With my name and my history here at school already, I’m already making the impact so I think I’m gonna be a teacher, maybe something higher, that’s to be determined, but definitely I want to be a teacher for a good while,” Campos said.

The goal is to expand the program next school year with up to 40 residents. To learn more about the program, click here.