University of Nevada program takes on state's teacher shortage

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In an effort to address teacher shortages and to increase teacher retention, students in STEM disciplines at the University of Nevada, Reno are now given the opportunity to earn a secondary teaching certification, along with their degree, through a program called NevadaTeach.

NevadaTeach, which began in fall 2015, has enrolled 73 students. School officials say the enrollment numbers are growing each semester. The program's focus is on developing highly proficient math and science teachers, with the goal they will stay in Nevada to teach.

The program requires students spend time in Washoe County Schools helping certified teachers lead their class. The in-class learning begins the first semester of the program. Officials say this helps students evaluate whether or not they want to be a teacher in the beginning of their schooling. In the past, the students didn't have the opportunity to enter the classroom until their senior year.

"We want them to know what teaching is like," said Megan Beckam, a teacher with NevadaTeach." It's better than getting to their senior year, being a student teacher, and deciding they don't like it."

The new program is unqiue to STEM subjects which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Students in "NevadaTeach" take science experiments and other hands-on learning tools to area schools.

"Probably seeing the light bulb go off. That light bulb moment is pretty cool," says Abby McGowan, a student in NevadaTeach. "To be a part of that is pretty amazing."

Other Universities across the country have implemented similar programs, in the hopes of getting more students interested in teaching nationwide. Previously, it would typically take students five years to earn their teaching credentials. With NevadaTeach, it only takes about four years.

To learn more about NevadaTeach, click here.

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