NewsLocal News


A look into the Arizona Teacher Residency program

alyscia etisitty teaching in the Arizona Teacher Residency program.jfif
Posted at 6:02 PM, Sep 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-29 22:20:06-04

PHOENIX — A new program to recruit and retain Arizona teachers is well underway. The Arizona Teacher Residency program, the first of its kind for graduate students, is about two months into the school year.

“I love it. Every day, something new is to be taught and learned,” said Alyscia Etsitty, a resident of the program and a student at Northern Arizona University.

The program partners with NAU for students to be part of the residency. Those part of the program teach across three different Valley school districts: Osborn, Roosevelt and Tempe Elementary.

The goal of the residency is to help find more teachers and keep them in the state, as Arizona is facing a severe teacher shortage. The Arizona School Personnel Administrators Association recently said there are about 26.6% of teacher vacancies across the state that remain unfilled.

The program is modeled after medical residencies. In the first year, residents will mostly observe and learn. Toward the end of the first year, they’ll take over their mentor’s class and teach students. In the second year, they’ll have a class on their own, but will have what’s called a master teacher to help guide them if needed.

The residency is different than student teaching.

“The major difference is I'm only there for maybe a semester. As to this, I'm here all year long, first day of school all the way to the last day of school. Bits and parts of that, I wasn't able to see, but now I'm able to see how it's supposed to be from the beginning to the end,” said Etsitty.

Kayce Kahl, Etsitty’s mentor, is glad aspiring teachers now have this resource. She said it gives people experience, especially for those who may not know exactly what it’s like to be hands-on in the classroom.

“You can take all these classes and be a teacher, but you need to be in the classroom to really experience what it’s like to be with kids,” she said.

Kahl told ABC15 it devastates her that fewer people want to go into the profession. She says she does it for the kids and wants more to consider it. She’s happy to help mentor people for a career she enjoys.

“I want to make a difference in kids’ lives. I don’t know. I love kids, and it’s important to me that I make an impact,” she said.

The program also gives residents stipends during the school year as well as more training. To keep teachers in Arizona following their residency, the program says residents will have to teach in their respective resident districts three years after they finish.

“What this program does is intentionally try to combat teacher turnover by preparing teachers who are supported to stay in the classroom,” said Victoria Theisen-Homer, the director of the Arizona Teacher Residency program.

Theisen-Homer says they plan to expand for the 2023-24 school year from 22 students this year to up to 40 residents. The residency program also plans to expand to other districts in the future and try and go into rural school districts as well.

Applications for the next school year will open up in the next few days, to find out more information about the Arizona Teacher Residency program, click here.