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New mentorship program aims to help aspiring teachers

Updated March 14, 2022 - 3:51 pm

The Public Education Foundation and UNLV announced Monday they’re partnering to launch a mentorship program to help aspiring teachers.

It’s geared toward current Clark County School District high school students who are enrolled in dual credit pre-teaching programs and school paraprofessionals who are working toward becoming a teacher.

The new offering will build on efforts already underway to address a local teacher shortage, which has worsened this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The school district had about 1,270 teacher vacancies, plus hundreds of support staff openings, as of earlier this month.

“The chronic and growing teacher shortage should be viewed as a crisis for all of us in Clark County, with the greatest immediate impact on our students, families and educators,” Public Education Foundation CEO Rich Broome said in a news release.

Working with UNLV to “reduce and eventually eliminate teacher shortages” will benefit all children educated in public schools and have a positive impact on the community’s long-term wellbeing, he said.

The partnership is “another great example of like-minded organizations working together to strengthen and diversify the pipeline of highly qualified teachers entering our local classrooms,” UNLV President Keith Whitfield said in the release.

Also on Monday, UNLV and the education foundation announced the sale of the foundation’s building on South Maryland Parkway to UNLV.

The facility will be the future home of the university’s Division of Educational Outreach. The education foundation’s administrative staff will relocate to work on UNLV’s campus later this year.

The foundation’s Teacher Superstore that provides supplies to educators will be relocated to a different property “to be announced in the near future,” according to the release.

As for the new mentorship program, candidates will be partnered with a licensed teacher — one who has at least three years of experience — during the year before entering a teaching program, according to the release.

In a Monday statement to the Review-Journal, Clark County School District Superintendent Jesus Jara said: “As I indicated in my State of the Schools speech, we must address our teacher shortage to raise the proficiency levels and academic performance of our students. It will take every one of us to solve the teacher shortage; with UNLV and the Public Education Foundation working to put more teachers in our classrooms, we focus on student outcomes and improve their performance.”

The new mentorship program is among a number of initiatives locally and statewide to help address the teacher shortage.

Earlier this month, the school district announced a hiring campaign — “When You Grow, We All Grow” — that includes career advancement opportunities for current employees, offerings for high schoolers in pre-teaching programs and alternate route to licensure options.

The district also partners with UNLV, which offers a paraprofessional pathways project that helps support staff and instructional aides become a licensed teacher. The program covers tuition and fees for participants.

And the Nevada Department of Education has an “Incentivizing Pathways to Teaching” program where aspiring teachers can get tuition assistance and student teaching stipends.

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on Twitter.

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