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Teacher shortage solutions

EMILY REID/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Psychology freshman Hillary Bender practices signing in her American Sign Language 1 class yesterday afternoon as professor Samuel J. Supalla Ph.D looks on.
By Tacie Holyoak
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday January 22, 2003

Lillian Kruse attends school in Mrs. Jackie Krieg's fourth grade class, and she's learning all she can from Mrs. Krieg, and her students.

As a matter of fact, the 23-year-old graduate student is learning more from fourth-graders than she ever imagined she would.

Kruse, an elementary education graduate student, works as a student teacher at Sam Hughes Elementary School, where she assists Krieg in planning lessons and assisting students.

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On Thursday, Kruse will take over Krieg's class of 20 fourth graders in order to fulfill her student teaching requirement. She has been observing teachers at Sam Hughes Elementary since October, and now she believes she is prepared to take on the challenge of teaching.

"Back in August, I was not ready," Kruse said, thankful for the confidence the UA's program, Teach for Tucson, has given her.

Programs like Teach for Tucson, which allow prospective K-12 educators to earn their master's degrees in one year, have been very effective in persuading qualified individuals to enter the teaching field, said Jane Erin, interim associate dean of the College of Education.

In light of the national shortage of teachers, college administrators said they are committed to providing Arizona's classrooms with qualified teachers, Erin said.

"Demands are great and growing," said Jack Jewett, president of the Arizona Board of Regents. "Teacher preparation (is a) major challenge for the university and the state. Certainly the university must continue to promote leadership in teacher development These are part of what will make our state strong."

The college also plans to provide a wide range of courses substantial subject matter as well as classes designed to "teach how to teach" and incorporate internships, ensuring guided experience for students, Erin said.

For the 800 students enrolled in the undergraduate education program and another 800 enrolled at the graduate level, a more hands-on approach is intended to help them better understand their future roles as educators.

"(Working in the classroom has) given me a tool box almost," she said. "Being in the classroom has helped to figure out what they've been talking about."

Upon completion of the Teach for Tucson program, Kruse will be eligible for certification, and then plans to enter a career in elementary education, where she will be confronted with a question many face at that point: "Where?"

A big push for teachers to work in low-income areas is being seen throughout the country. President Bush's new proposal will give $17,500 worth of loan forgiveness for teachers committed to serve five years in high-poverty schools, said a U.S. Department of Education news release yesterday, meaning that amount will be reduced from the total they owe the federal government in loan paybacks.

Bush hopes the proposal will help solve the critical teacher shortage and reduce the number of emergency licensures handed out in some states, said the National Center for Education Information.

The licensures allow people without official education licenses who have degrees in specific areas of study to teach.

The College of Education plans to carry on the reputation of the high quality of its teachers by keeping a careful check on admissions and accepting only qualified individuals. Current qualifications include a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0 for all UA coursework, 60-120 hours of prior work with school-aged children and a cross-cultural experience.

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