Tulare Co. gets $6.8M for teacher residency program

California Center on Teaching Careers will give student teachers valuable experience in high-need classes while getting their master’s degree


TULARE COUNTY – Medical residents have been helping staff hospitals, see patients and get valuable experience at hospitals in desperate need of more doctors. Tulare County is hoping a residency program could do the same thing for school districts in need of more teachers.

Earlier this month, the Tulare County Office of Education announced that its California Center on Teaching Careers was awarded a five-year, $6.85 million grant through a partnership with California State University, Bakersfield (CSUB) and Visalia Unified School District (VUSD).

The Teacher Quality Partnership grant (TQP) will fund a new program titled Teacher Residency for Rural Education (TRRE). The program is designed for graduate students seeking to obtain their single subject credential in math, science, English, or special education while earning a master’s degree in education and participating in computer science training.

Donna Glassman-Sommer, executive director of the California Center on Teaching Careers, reports that TRRE will include annual cohorts of 20-25 teacher candidates who will gain a year-long clinical experience in Visalia Unified’s high-need classrooms while taking credential and master’s coursework through CSUB. As an added bonus, teacher candidates in each cohort will be paid a living wage.

“This grant award is a fantastic progression for the Center in its work to solve California’s teacher shortage,” said Tim Hire, Tulare County Superintendent of Schools. “The collaboration between our office, Visalia Unified, and Cal State Bakersfield will certainly become a model for district and university partnerships across the state.”

In addition to partnerships with CSUB and VUSD, TRRE involves collaboration with the Stanford Teacher Education Program, the Bank Street School, EnCorps STEM Teachers Program, and a cadre of community-based partners committed to supporting the development of high-quality teachers for high-need, rural students. TRRE continues the work of the Center, which was created in 2017 to help meet California’s teacher demand through collaborative leadership, personalized digital pathways to teaching and a repository for best practices in recruitment, selection and hiring. For more information on the TRRE program, contact Donna Glassman-Sommer at [email protected].

California Center on Teaching Careers provides teacher development and recruitment support through its lead center in Tulare County and satellite centers in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Shasta, Sonoma, and Ventura counties. The goal of The Center is to increase California’s teacher workforce, particularly in the recruitment of ethnically diverse and bilingual math, science, and special education teachers.

Three-quarters of all California school districts report difficulties in recruiting teachers, and enrollment in teacher preparation programs in California has dropped by more than 70 percent over the past decade. More than 30 percent of teachers in California leave the profession within five years, and the impending retirement of California’s Baby Boomer generation of teachers will make the challenge even worse. The issue is compounded in the Central Valley, and more specifically in Tulare County, where Glassman-Sommer said the problem is projected to be exponentially worse. Several issues compound the teacher shortage in Tulare County, such as the inability to recruit young professionals from out of the area in addition to the statewide problems of retirement and promoting good teachers into administrative roles.

The goal is for the center to become the hub for teacher recruitment and retention. The organization works to reach more candidates and attract them to the teaching profession through statewide Public Service Announcements, as well as cutting-edge tools such as virtual messages through AVATARs (Animated Virtual Assistant for Teaching Awareness and Resources). The center’s Vortal (vertical digital portal) at CaliforniaTeach.org is a personalized, virtual tool for finding information on different pathways, accessing opportunities and enrolling in programs.

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