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New project tries to tackle the challenge of recruiting and retaining teachers on the South Coast

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KCLU
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Christopher Guevara is taking part in a new teacher residency program.

A residency program provides stipends, tuition and classroom experience for student teachers.

Student teacher Christopher Guevara is teaching expanding subtraction at Rio Rosales Elementary School in Oxnard.

He’s taking part in a new teacher residency program for teaching credential candidates at CSU Channel Islands (CSUCI).

Like the other 40 students in the program, he has his tuition paid for and is receiving a $10,000 a year stipend.

"I get to be in a classroom from the start of the school year to the end of the school year...rather than like regular student teaching, " he told KCLU.

His mentor at the school is teacher Katrin Meyer-Gomes. She says it’s not just great for the educators – it also benefits the students and school as a whole.

"I think it's an amazing program, it's the best way for a teacher to learn about how to teach. And it's super helpful for me of course to have another teacher in the classroom," she said.

CSUCI’s School of Education has established residencies for student teachers at the Oxnard School District (OSD), Oxnard Union High School District (OUHSD), the Rio School District and the Santa Barbara Unified School District (SBUSD).

Professor of Education and Dean Brian Sevier has been working toward getting the residency program established at Cal State Channel Islands since 2014 - because he says knows what it’s like to make ends meet as a student teacher.

"When I did my student teaching it was a semester and I dropped into the school.

"But in a residency the students take on the life of a teacher. They don't follow the university schedule they follow the school year. The residents pay no tuition and they receive a living stipend every semester," Sevier told KCLU.

Sevier sees this residency program as a win for both the student teachers and the districts.

Aside from tuition and the stipend, the residents sign an agreement to work in the district for two to four years if they are offered a job after completing the residency program.

Sevier says schools benefit as they often get student teachers who grew up in the area and the residency program also allows for more diversity in the teaching pool.

"Residencies are a pathway to address some of the main impediments to diversifying the teacher workforce. They remove pathway blockers - they remove financial barriers," he said.

"They allow us to recruit students from local communities that are needed and represent the communities they're from," Sevier added. "And because it's such deep preparation, it helps retain teachers in the profession."