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Planting roots: SUSD & NAU unveil Arizona Teacher Residency Program

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The Teacher Residency Program offers aspiring educators a comprehensive training experience whereas upon successful program completion, participants earn a master’s degree from NAU and commit to teaching in their partnering district for an additional two years. (File Photos/DigitalFreePress)
Arizona Teacher Residency Program seeks to keep SUSD talent local
Staff Reports | Digital Free Press

The Scottsdale Unified School District and Northern Arizona University are joining forces to create the Arizona Teacher Residency Program.

The dynamic partnership between SUSD and NAU marks a significant milestone in shaping the future of Arizona public education by providing aspiring educators with a comprehensive, two-year expedition toward teacher accreditation, Scottsdale Schools officials say.

The Teacher Residency Program offers aspiring educators a comprehensive training experience whereas upon successful program completion, participants earn a master’s degree from NAU and commit to teaching in their partnering district for an additional two years.

SUSD’s first Teacher Residency cohort began its journey in July, working closely with experienced classroom teacher supervisors at two schools: Navajo Elementary and Tavan elementary school.

In addition to gaining hands-on classroom experience, the residents attend NAU classes twice a week. During these sessions, the prospective teachers acquire teaching strategies and models to implement in their classrooms, ensuring they are well-prepared to inspire and educate the next generation of students.

What sets this year’s cohort of teacher residents apart is its familiarity with SUSD: many of them previously served as paraeducators, administrative staff and substitute teachers in the district, making their transition into educators a natural progression.

“It’s such a big difference to have a resident teacher versus a student teacher,” said Claudia Vickers, a supervising teacher at Tavan. “The residents bring in experiences that student teachers don’t have. They have seen more, so they learn quicker. It’s been amazing to see.”

“I’m really impressed by the program,” said Lisa Kasanicky, a teacher resident at Navajo Elementary. “Everyone is working together to create an amazing program.”

As the current Teacher Residents prepare to take on their own classrooms two years in the future, the program’s vision extends beyond this inaugural group. SUSD officials report the overall aim of the program is to sustain this transformative initiative and welcome a fresh cohort of Teacher Residents to SUSD in the 2024-25 school year.

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