If it takes a village to raise children, it takes a community to run a school district. Many of our teachers reside within our community and embed themselves in our town and culture. In fact, many of our teachers are homegrown and grew up local. Community connection is an important factor in regard to teacher retention.

In 2017, Gov. Doug Ducey initiated the Arizona Teachers Academy to assist in remedying the state’s crippling teacher shortage. Components of this program focused on preparing students to meet the needs of schools in low-income and rural areas. Universities participating in this program support various pathways into the teaching profession; career changers, traditional, and grow your own. After almost three years, Arizona Teachers Academy is going strong and enrollment is increasing.

What exactly is the Arizona Teachers Academy? This program, supported by local community colleges and public universities (Arizona State, University of Arizona, Northern Arizona) is a way for people to go to school for free in order to become a teacher. Not free puppy free, air you breathe free.

Requirements to enter the program at one of these institutions generally are as follows: be admitted into an undergraduate degree program, complete the free application for federal student aid, complete one grant application, accept all eligible grant aid awarded, enroll in classes and agree to be a full-time teacher in a Title I school on a year-to-year basis. All WUSD schools in Wickenburg are Title I schools.

Many hesitate to complete a bachelor’s degree because of money, but through the Academy, money is not a concern. Tuition costs not paid by scholarships and grants are waived for academy candidates.  

Previously, I have written about pathways to becoming a teacher, which require a bachelor’s degree. This pathway offers an economical way to attain a bachelor’s degree.

For those seeking a stable and rewarding career with superior retirement benefits, this is your opportunity.

For more information on this fantastic program, visit education.azgovernor.gov.

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