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Texas News

First-of-Its-Kind Teacher Apprenticeship Program in Texas To Address Need for High-Quality Teacher Talent Pipeline

The first paid teacher residency apprenticeships in Texas will be offered soon by Dallas College, as part of a program aimed at building a steady pipeline of well-trained teachers and putting those teachers in more classrooms across the state, sooner rather than later.

Staffing and teacher shortages in schools across the nation, which only worsened during the pandemic, have left Texas schools facing an immediate challenge in recruiting teachers for hard-to-fill positions. Dallas College’s School of Education is making a concerted effort with local school districts to strengthen the teacher pipeline by modeling a hands-on training program similar to what has been successfully employed in other professions, such as fast-track apprenticeships in health care. This paid apprenticeship model gives trainees a chance to gain real-world experience and earn a salary with a partner organization while earning a degree or a credential.

“The apprenticeships will help fill short-term workforce needs of partner school systems while providing a rich, career-embedded learning opportunity for Dallas College students, resulting in a living-wage job,” said Dallas College Dean of Educator Pathways Sara DeLano. “We are thrilled to launch this program with two local school partners and would love to expand it to school systems across the region. The apprenticeship program removes financial barriers and supports school systems in growing their own pipeline of talented educators.”

Richardson Independent School District (RISD) is the first to join Dallas College in the apprenticeship program, and Uplift Education expects to join in the partnership this spring to host students currently enrolled in Dallas College’s bachelor’s degree in teaching program and place them at schools most in need of additional teaching staff. Students in the first cohorts in fall 2022 will earn $30,000 each in year-long residencies. These students will serve as residents three days per week in classrooms and will then either tutor or serve as a substitute one day per week. At scale, the apprenticeship program will look to serve 200 future educators in partnering school districts across Dallas County.

The residency is also structured as a cohort model that allows students to participate in once-a-week cohort meetings and also to receive deep coaching from Dallas College faculty members.

“This innovative program offers a win-win for Dallas College students and school districts,” said Tabitha Branum, RISD’s interim superintendent. “The [Dallas College] School of Education will graduate students who will not be deeply in debt, so when they become teachers, they won’t have to find ways to pay off that debt. The immediate opportunity for Richardson ISD is that we will be able to host and hire students who have spent a year preparing and honing their craft. We think an apprenticeship year increases the likelihood that they will become excellent long-term educators in our district.”

Uplift Education anticipates joining as an official partner in the apprenticeship program later this month. “Uplift is incredibly excited to join with Dallas College in this apprenticeship opportunity and expand our ‘grow your own’ teacher pipelines to ensure more teachers have extensive on-the-job experience before taking over their own classrooms," said Anne Erickson, Uplift Education’s chief people officer. “This apprenticeship is also a financially attractive avenue for the 360 Uplift alumni who currently attend Dallas College and are interested in teaching to return to Uplift and start a career as a classroom teacher.”

Dallas College will hold a signing ceremony with the first two partner school systems on March 30, 2022, at 2 p.m.

Earlier this year, Dallas College received approval from the U.S. Department of Labor to serve as Texas’ first registered apprenticeship sponsor for teaching. During the inaugural year, Dallas College will use approximately $150,000 in apprenticeship dollars from the Department of Labor grant to cover students’ tuition. Dallas College will also seek funding through the Department’s $113 million “Apprenticeship Building America” program to support and expand teaching apprenticeships.

The Texas Education Agency estimates that in the next decade, Texas will continue to experience high demand for certified schoolteachers to fill positions across the state. Demand is particularly high in disciplines that currently have an inadequate supply of schoolteachers. Dallas College is the second institution across the nation and the first in Texas to have its program be recognized by the Department of Labor as a registered teaching apprenticeship.

“School districts across Texas already rely on Dallas College and other institutions of higher education to meet their hiring needs, but this apprenticeship program will provide aspiring educators with a seamless bridge to train in a school district and then land a job in that same district,” said Dallas College Vice Provost of Education Robert DeHaas. “The apprenticeships will be an important and unique way that our School of Education continues to work closely with our local school district partners to meet their critical educator workforce needs.”

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