A new initiative to bring more teachers to Arizona's classrooms has been launched as education, civic, community, government and business leaders celebrated the creation of the Arizona Teachers Academy, an innovative strategy to improve education in Arizona.
Gov. Doug Ducey, who called on the Arizona Board of Regents and the state's public universities to help increase the number of qualified K-12 teachers during his State of the State Address, said the launch of the academy represents an educational priority that will bring more teachers to Arizona's high-needs schools. The initiative was announced at Tres Rios Service Academy in Tolleson, Arizona.
Arizona Teachers Academy programs began this fall at each of Arizona's three public universities. Graduates of the academy who agree to teach in Arizona will have the cost of the tuition and fees associated with their program of study waived through a year-for-year tuition scholarship that rewards graduates who teach in Arizona schools, ensuring that they arrive in classrooms qualified to teach and unburdened by tuition debt.
The Arizona Teachers Academy features multiple program offerings that allow individuals to participate at various points in their education or career. Arizona's public universities are enrolling approximately 230 students during the first year and anticipate building capacity to about 730 in the academy's fifth year.
At the University of Arizona, the academy will be tailored for career changers and those who already have bachelor's degrees in other fields. The UA's one-year, master's-level certification will enable nontraditional students and career changers to become teachers.
"Talented people who have always dreamed of teaching can now take advantage of these programs and realize their aspirations," said UA President Robert C. Robbins. "Our graduates will go to schools where they are needed and where they can make the most difference in students' lives."
Academy participants at Arizona State University will utilize design labs, developing new knowledge and tools to create schools of the future in rural and urban communities. Northern Arizona University will expand its "Grow Your Own" partnerships with local schools and community colleges. These partnerships identify and train future teachers in communities with teacher shortages.
Community colleges will play a role in the success of the academy through partnerships with the universities.
"The Arizona Teachers Academy demonstrates a new commitment by the board and the universities to bring and retain new teachers to Arizona's classrooms, eliminating barriers to rewarding careers in education," said Eileen Klein, Arizona Board of Regents president. "We are proud to have led this effort to develop this important initiative for the state, and I am confident that we will continue to innovate to create additional options to grow our teacher workforce."