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New ‘Teacher Pathway’ Program for Future CCSD Employees Hopes to add to pipeline

Program is being supported by Public Education Foundation
Carefully+looking+over+state+standards+and+criteria%2C+newly+appointed+English+10+H+and+11+teacher+Pier+Shoates+creates+lesson+plans.+Since+the+start+of+the+second+semester%2C+Shoates+has+made+the+move+from+support+staff+to+teaching.+%E2%80%9CI+have+a+way+better+understanding+of+how+students+are+now%2C%E2%80%9D+Shoates+said.+%E2%80%9CI+can+see+it+from+both+the+staff+perspective+and+the+student+perspective.%E2%80%9D
Philipos Alebachew
Carefully looking over state standards and criteria, newly appointed English 10 H and 11 teacher Pier Shoates creates lesson plans. Since the start of the second semester, Shoates has made the move from support staff to teaching. “I have a way better understanding of how students are now,” Shoates said. “I can see it from both the staff perspective and the student perspective.”

With an influx of open teaching positions within the district and a large substitute teacher shortage, the district and higher education authorities, like NSC and UNLV, along with the Public Education Foundation (PEF), have been working to train CCSD employees to fill empty positions through a program called the “Teacher Pathway.”

“The idea is that we want to grow our own teachers locally,” Teaching and Training instructor Vincent Thur said. “They would have a full time job in the district and then take education classes in the evening so they can become a teacher which the school district pays for.”

The Public Education Foundation and CCSD have been taking measures to give an opportunity to aspiring educators who may be uncertain of joining the industry.

“They keep adding more onto teachers’ plates and paying them less, appreciating them less,” Assistant Principal Donna Besser said, “There is a lot more pressure being added to the profession but a lot less respect for it so I think that until that changes, we are always going to continue to struggle.”

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Part of the incentive of the program is being able to have a full-time licensed position along with benefits like health care and free tuition.

“When I went to college, I had to pay my own way and I did not have a lot of money, so it was really hard to try and pay the bills and go to school,” Thur said. “The idea of having a program where you could get employed and have a full time job, benefits, and medical while taking classes locally gets rid of a lot of the barriers that might keep someone from doing it.”

The program focuses on three main ideals: mentorship and support, preparing for Pathway and retaining new educators. 

“Teacher candidates are paired with master teachers to help ensure they are prepared for teacher education programs,” the Public Education Foundation said on their website, “Including applying for financial aid, understanding the time requirements of their teacher preparation program, arranging for childcare and transportation, test preparation, and more, with the goal of ensuring mentees meet the requirements for UNLV’s Paraprofessional Pathways Project.”

Through a national education technology platform called Study.com, PEF plans to encourage aspiring educators to gain their teaching credentials.

 “Study.com has donated 100 licenses in comprehensive, cost-free materials and resources to paraprofessionals enrolled in the Teacher Pathway program to help them prepare and pass their teacher certification tests,” Public Education Foundation said. “Teacher test preparation licenses will be distributed to Teacher Pathway mentees who, historically, face obstacles passing the PRAXIS exam.” 

The program thoroughly trains its students in classrooms through classroom observations as well as student teaching, however English 10 H and 11 teacher Pier Shoates is approaching the process differently through the Teacher Residency Model. 

“I get to have my own classroom, so it’s the best on the job training you could get,” Shoates said, “That prepares me for next year when I am fully licensed and ready to go because I will already know what to do and what to make better.”

Shoates previously worked for Desert Oasis High School Athletics and as Besser’s secretary.

“I think that being able to have that day to day interaction with kids and how a school functions, interacting with parents, and counselors, and teachers is beneficial to them,” Besser said, “They get to see what it’s like way more than a student who is in a school building, learning from a textbook.”

This story was originally published on Southwest Shadow on February 21, 2023.