The Sunnyside Unified School District and University of Arizona College of Education have created a pathway for people affiliated with the Sunnyside district to enter the teaching profession via a 17-month, fast-track degree program, Pathways to Teaching.
Upon completion, Pathways participants earn a bachelor’s degree in elementary education with a K-8 teaching certificate and English as a Second Language endorsement. The first cohort starts in January 2020.
The program covers tuition and includes a monthly stipend, and is open to anyone with an affiliation with Sunnyside Unified School District, including former students, parents, community members and district employees. To be eligible, applicants must have completed an associate’s degree in elementary education or have 60 transferrable units of general education courses and meet UArizona College of Education prerequisites.
“Pathways to Teaching addresses Arizona’s teacher shortage by providing a clear pathway to teacher certification for employees and any others who have a connection to the Sunnyside District. These future teachers will be familiar with Sunnyside families and the community and will be able to draw from their experiences and relationships to design truly effective learning environments for their students,” said UArizona College of Education Department Head and Associate Professor Marcy Wood.
Equity, innovation, and disruption are at the core of the initiative.
“This program disrupts the traditional teacher-education model by investing in people who are familiar with our school community and dedicated to serving students as a career. This place-based approach is a must in a competitive era where there is a shortage of adults committed to the teaching profession,” said Sunnyside Superintendent Steve Holmes. “Our employees devote so much time and passion to our students, what better way to support them than through a top-notch program like the one at the UA College of Education?”
District employees must step down from their current position to enroll in Pathways to Teaching.
While tuition is provided at no cost to those in the program, students are responsible for nominal fees associated with fingerprint clearances and state exam study guides. Students receive a $1,000 monthly stipend from the College of Education for the duration of the program.
The future teachers will work in Sunnyside classrooms throughout the program, which will help build a steady pipeline of qualified teachers for the district.