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Federal funds to boost Arizona teacher mentorship program

Posted at 9:00 AM, Apr 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-15 12:00:17-04

PHOENIX — State Superintendent Kathy Hoffman and the Arizona Department of Education announced Thursday $2.5 million in federal relief and recovery dollars for Arizona K12 Center's Induction and Mentoring Program.

The program provides districts with a dedicated, full-time mentor, to work with teachers during their first few years in the classroom. The boost in funding will expand the program from seven districts to 22 districts, located throughout Arizona.

"I don't know of many professions where the day you get that degree, or that certificate to do it, where you're doing it solo," said Kathy Wiebke, executive director of Arizona K12 Center. "To work alongside a first year teacher, to help show them the ropes and really give them the opportunity to make their own decisions, and try their own things and then have conversations about it."

Weibke says mentorship and support is vital in attracting and retaining qualified teachers.

Arizona's ongoing teacher shortage has only been heightened by the pandemic.

The most recent data from the AZ School Personnel Administrators Association shows as of December 2020, about 27 percent of teacher vacancies across the state remain unfilled.

About 47 percent of vacancies are filled by teachers who do not meet the state's standard certification requirements.