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First cohort of Pathways to Teaching graduates help fill teacher shortages in Tucson

Getting ever close to Memorial Day, Kylie Danvers-Gay’s class is excited to play a version of...
Getting ever close to Memorial Day, Kylie Danvers-Gay’s class is excited to play a version of jeopardy, especially in person.(kold)
Updated: May. 25, 2021 at 5:51 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The need for teachers is increasing, especially as COVID-19 changed the classroom landscape.

Kylie Danvers-Gay’s class is excited to play a version of jeopardy, especially in person. She has been teaching these students for a year—though she just graduated from the University of Arizona a couple of weeks ago.

“Jumping headfirst to the water of your own classroom, definitely makes you learn a lot,” Danvers-Gay said.

She’s part of the first cohort of the Pathways to Teaching program at the University of Arizona. It pays tuition for a 17-month, full-throttle student teaching immersion. Participants also get a $1,000 monthly stipend. It helps them start off on the right foot and be able to stay in the communities they are in.

“I’m not in student debt because I didn’t have to pay for Pathways. Pathways is sponsored by ATA (American Teacher Academy),” she said. “Everybody says your first year of teaching is your hardest year and being virtual just made it that much harder of a year. So, now I will never have a year harder than this.”

Danvers-Gay and her cohort did this during the pandemic. Teaching virtually was a tough year for many, which showed the need for more teachers like her.

According to the Arizona School Personnel Administrators Association, more than 300 teachers across the state resigned, citing COVID as the main reason. More than 600 non-teacher school staff did the same.

The Pima County Superintendent’s office said there was more than a 25 percent teacher shortage pre-pandemic, and that “trend is going to continue to be a challenge for many reasons including salary, professionalism, new policies, and political fever.” The hope is this program will grow retention and keep them in districts.

“It’s not just about preparing our classroom teachers,” said Marcy Wood, the department head of teaching, learning and sociocultural studies at the University of Arizona. ‘But, at the same time, we’re working with teachers already in the classroom and providing them with more resources and growth.”

All 10 in the first cohort have placements within Sunnyside Unified School District. The Pathways to Teaching program started in 2019 with this group, recently started another cohort in Douglas in 2020 and has plans to expand the program next year with more school districts, potentially in Oracle and Sahuarita.

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