Yuma, AZ (May 14, 2018) – Students in the ASU@Yuma Secondary Education program have received early teaching contract offers before their upcoming graduation, some as early as during their first year of classes. With a shortage of teachers to fill open middle and high school positions in Yuma, the program has been a much-needed addition to the community.
The four-semester program began in 2016, allowing Arizona Western College students to transfer to Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College to earn their Secondary Education degree while still living in Yuma. The program offers in-person and online courses for students who wish to become middle school and high school teachers in math, science, history, and English Language Arts.
There are 10 students in the first cohort of the program who will be graduating on May 18. Another 10 students are enrolled in the second cohort of the program. Of those 20 students, three students have been offered contracts or letters of intent from local schools.
“I have students that are midway through the program that are already being offered teaching positions. They are working really hard to learn content and teaching strategies, and are successfully applying their skills in actual classrooms during their internships. This is a rigorous program, it’s not easy, but the students come out like second year teachers when they graduate,” said Joena Ezroj, iTeachAZ Site Coordinator for AWC.
For the first three semesters of the program, students have an opportunity to do internships where they work in local classrooms one day a week with mentor teachers. During the fourth semester, they do full-time student teaching.
“They get to practice what they’re learning with real live students and every semester it’s a different school, different mentor teachers, and different students all over Yuma,” Ezroj said. Partner districts where students participate in internships and student teaching include: Yuma Union High School District, Yuma Elementary School District 1, Gadsden Elementary School District, and Crane Elementary School District.
Most of the students enrolled in the program are studying to become English teachers. AWC Professor of English Jane DeLaurier, who has taught upper-division literature courses for the program, shared that she’s been advocating for a program like this for years after seeing a number of students leave Yuma because there wasn’t a pathway for them to become an English teacher locally.
“For years I’ve listened to the frustrations of English students who wanted to teach English at the secondary level, but couldn’t leave Yuma to study or get certified. Some became psychology majors and others turned to teaching elementary when they didn’t really want to. This is finally an opportunity for these students to become who they really are – secondary English teachers,” said DeLaurier.
One of those future English teachers is Yuma native Christine Cabrales. She’s already being paid to teach full-time before she graduates from the program.
“I've wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember, but it wasn't in the cards for me. I have a family here and it wasn't realistic or doable for me to just uproot my family so that I can finish getting my B.A.,” said Cabrales. “Next thing you know, I'm in the process of transferring and enrolling. It is just incredible to have this program locally. I think it really helps out those who are unable to pack up and leave for various reasons such as military, finances, or families.”
There are 32 new students enrolled in Secondary Education for the upcoming fall semester. Ezroj shared that she’s currently working to increase the amount of ASU faculty needed to meet the demand of the growing program.
iTeachAZ Site Coordinator for AWC | Assistant Clinical Professor
Arizona State University | Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College