May 30 2006

Pinal County Program Taps Migrants to Teach

Published by at May 30, 2006 3:06 am under Foreign Language Instruction

Anticipating a desperate need for teachers in Pinal County, Central Arizona College and Arizona State University have forged a partnership that will funnel legal immigrants with international teaching experience, particularly from Latin American countries, into classrooms in the fast-growing county.

Students in districts such as Coolidge, Florence and the city of Maricopa will directly benefit from the Pinal Post-Baccalaureate Partnership, which also looks to diversify Pinal County’s teaching staff to better reflect the area’s growing Hispanic population.

“This program is a way of recruiting some people who are traditionally underemployed, bringing them to the county where we have need and giving the schools some qualified bodies,” said Ray Polvani, a consultant with Central Arizona College who helped brainstorm the idea for the program about a year ago.

Approved by the Arizona State Board of Education and in partnership with the Mexican Consul General’s Office, the program will recruit specific students, ones living in the U.S. legally and who have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution but aren’t certified to teach in Arizona.

The 2 1/2-year postgraduate program will earn the student a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction and a provisional endorsement in English as a second language.

Program administrators are specifically looking for Latin American immigrants who were teachers before coming to the U.S. The program, a first of its kind in Arizona, will fast track the students through the certification and master’s degree process in addition to offering a mentorship program.

In exchange, the students must commit to at least a three-year stay at a school in a Pinal County school district.

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