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NAU program for future teachers aims to address shortage

A cohort of graduate students in education at Northern Arizona University spend their days teaching and their nights on required coursework. It’s part of a new program for future educators that aims to address the yearslong teacher shortage in Arizona.

The new two-year program is modeled after residencies used to train medical students. Arizona Teacher Residency Director Victoria Theisen-Homer said the shortage has less to do with a lack of teachers, and more to do with retention.

"We know that teachers who enter the profession without any preparation prior to becoming a teacher of record are 2.5 times more likely to leave in the first year alone," she said.

Theisen-Homer said the residency leaves teachers better prepared to run a classroom than previous methods of training.

"Anyone that’s going into a challenging and complex profession should have a lot of hands-on experience prior to becoming the only one making decisions," Theisen-Homer said.

Those who complete the program will receive their masters in elementary education from NAU.

Kirsten Dorman is a field correspondent at KJZZ. Born and raised in New Jersey, Dorman fell in love with audio storytelling as a freshman at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in 2019.