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Future Teachers Begin New Arizona Teach Residency

The Arizona Teacher Residency has accepted its first cohort of 30 future teachers, as well as the 30 supervising teachers who will be working with those teacher residents this next school year.

The Arizona Teacher Residency is a first-of-its-kind graduate program in Arizona modeled after medical residencies to help recruit, prepare, support and retain K-12 teachers, especially those with identities that have been underrepresented in the teaching population. The two-year program provides aspiring teachers with in-classroom experience, a living stipend, a master’s degree and a job at a partnering school district. Residents will receive mentoring and induction from a trained instructional mentor through the Arizona K12 Center in their second year with the support continuing into the third year.

“The importance of teacher recruitment and retention has never been more imperative for Arizona’s schools,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman, who late last year announced a $5 million investment into the Arizona K12 Center using federal relief funds to support the development of the residency. “The work of the Arizona Teacher Residency is providing a pipeline of not only highly qualified teaching professionals, but educators who will be able to maximize the learning potential of their students. I share a great amount of optimism that this cohort will make a lasting impact on our students for years to come.”

This inaugural cohort of residents will undergo a 10-day summer institute at Northern Arizona University this July before starting their year of apprenticeship in the classroom of a supervising teacher this August. Each resident will then teach in their own classroom the following school year, 2023-2024. Ten resident-supervising teacher pairs will serve each of the following districts: Osborn School DistrictRoosevelt School District and Tempe Elementary School District. Eventually, the program will expand to serve high school districts, as well as rural districts.

“We are delighted to welcome these aspiring teachers to the Arizona Teacher Residency and to support them in their teaching journeys,” said Victoria Theisen-Homer, director of the Arizona Teacher Residency. “We are also so pleased that this group is more representative of the students they will be serving than is usually seen across the country.”

Diverse in every sense of the word, this first Arizona Teacher Residency cohort includes people from a variety of age groups and walks of life. The group includes both recent college graduates and mid-career switchers, coming from a range of careers, including social work, real estate development, aviation and engineering. Many of them have worked in schools as paraprofessionals, substitute teachers, office technicians and assistants. Half of the residents identify as people of color. A quarter of the residents are men, which is a greater representation than is common in elementary classrooms.

Over half of the supervising teachers are also people of color. Supervising teachers were chosen through a rigorous process that included nominations and feedback from parents, community members, fellow teachers and district leaders.

The residents, supervising teachers, and partnering school district leaders will celebrate the start of the residents’ experience with an Inaugural Celebration of the Arizona Teacher Residency this July.

Northern Arizona University (NAU) President José Luis Cruz Rivera and dean for the College of Education at Northern Arizona University Ramona Mellott both spoke about their excitement for the program and its potential to impact the state.

“NAU is proud to announce our inaugural cohort of the Arizona Teacher Residency Program,” said President Cruz Rivera. “This is a program that embodies our mission of transforming lives and enriching communities, using our distinctive excellence to drive social impact and economic mobility for our state. We are thrilled to welcome these new residents and supervising teachers to the NAU Family.”

“Transformative education requires a strong and diverse teacher workforce who will remain in the profession long-term. Teacher residency programs increase this likelihood by having great teachers who develop the skills they need to have a lasting impact on student learning,” said Dean Mellott. “I am so proud of the work of Victoria Theisen-Homer, the founding director of the Arizona Teacher Residency, and Kathy Wiebke and other staff at the Arizona K12 Center to establish a first-of-its-kind graduate teacher residency program in Arizona.” 

The Arizona Teacher Residency will also soon be accepting applications for the resident cohort beginning the program in the 2023-2024 school year. Those interested in applying this fall can sign-up now through the program’s interest form at aztr.org.

The Arizona Teacher Residency is a two-year program that prepares recent college graduates from any degree program and mid-career switchers who already have a bachelor’s degree to be effective classroom teachers. The program begins with a 10-day summer institute, followed by a year of in-school apprenticeship under a supervising teacher before the resident becomes the teacher-of-record in the program’s second year. Those who successfully complete the program will receive a Master’s in Elementary Education from Northern Arizona University and be credentialed to teach grades K-8 in Arizona.

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