MCC pitches in on teacher shortage issue in Arizona with local program

Students from the Mohave Community College 2016 graduating class get ready to celebrate after their ceremony May 13. (Courtesy)

Students from the Mohave Community College 2016 graduating class get ready to celebrate after their ceremony May 13. (Courtesy)

KINGMAN – Mohave Community College is continuing the effort to help solve Arizona’s teacher shortage.

According to a statement from MCC, Stephanie Dieringer, Associate Dean of Instruction has presented the college’s Board of Governors with new information regarding MCC’s “Grow Your Own” initiative which originally unveiled last October.

MCC has a goal of implementing a comprehensive plan to address K-12 teacher recruitment and retention issues in Mohave County.

According to data from the Arizona Department of Education, 89 percent of teachers in Arizona recruited from out of state leave the school district in which they were hired within five years. The department’s research also shows 80 percent of new teachers return to within 40 miles of the schools they attended.

That’s a big reason why MCC wants to help the communities grow their own teachers – because people may be more likely to stay at home, or come back home to help educate future generations.

MCC’s first step was to gather input from local school districts last fall. So far, the program is still in its infancy.

“We have been briefed on the program and we are aware this is an outstanding opportunity to grow our own teachers,” said Kingman Unified School District Superintendent Roger Jacks.

“Other than hosting these students in our schools for practicum and student teaching purposes, we do not work within this program,” said Kingman Academy of Learning Administrator Susan Chan.

She confirmed that entry level MCC education students are allowed to observe KAOL classroom instruction and that the academy also hosts student teachers from Northern Arizona University.

“We are more than happy to have these students,” she said.

MCC is also working with its partner universities to find ways to improve the process for students to earn degrees in education and get students set on the right path early. A student who wants to be a teacher would start at MCC and could save thousands of dollars in tuition the first two years of the student’s four-year college plan. After the first two years, a student’s associate degree will transfer to MCC’s partner universities, where the student will be on a clearly defined path to receive a bachelor’s degree and teaching certificate.

“We’re continuing to coordinate with our transfer partners, such as NAU and local school districts with the goal of providing more opportunities in our dual enrollment programs and helping create that path for students,” Dieringer told the board.

She added that MCC will also be working with school districts to offer opportunities to any employee who does not yet have their degree or certificate but wants to earn them.

MCC is working closely with the Western Arizona Vocational Education Joint Technical District to find ways to help pay for tuition and books for people who want to become teachers.

“WAVE JTED invests in the future by supporting programs such as Grow Your Own,” said Rosemarie LeFebvre, WAVE JTED board member and MCC employee. “What better way to help prepare our students for college and a career than to provide tuition, books, and classroom supplies for education profession coursework?”

LeFebvre said WAVE JTED and MCC also have similar goals when it comes to working with business and industry to support the growing employment needs of the community. The teacher shortage throughout Arizona is one of those areas where help is needed.

“We invest in the future of our communities by investing in our youth today,” she said. “Along with Mohave Community College and local high schools, we know we need to invest in our students working on earning a teaching credential.”

MCC’s Grow Your Own campaign is part of the college’s strategic plan to enhance its value to the community by strengthening outreach, involvement and partnerships.

“This is very important to us,” said MCC President Michael Kearns. “We see the need for teachers in our local school districts and we are in a position to help. This initiative will help map the path to success for those who want to be teachers, and in return will help the future of our communities.”