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Amid shortage, CCSD hopes high school curriculum will create pipeline for new teachers

LAS VEGAS, Nevada (FOX5) – There is a critical shortage of teachers in Southern Nevada. In the Clark County School District, there are 1,300 open positions for licensed educators.

A group of CCSD high school graduates have pledged to help fill the void and become teachers and could soon be back in the classroom.

Students can enroll in the Career in Teaching and Training and Technical Education (CTE) program to begin their journey to becoming a teacher at CCSD while earning their high school diploma. CCSD currently has 30 high schools offering the curriculum with over 4,000 students enrolled.

On Wednesday night, high school students from across the Las Vegas Valley graduated from the program. High school students could immediately return as emergency substitutes as they continue their education at local colleges.

“It’s essential, it’s essential, it’s so important that we build the pipeline of teachers here in the Clark County School District. To date, we have approximately 1,300 approved vacancies,” said CDCC Deputy Superintendent Dr. Brenda Larsen-Mitchell at the ceremony.

Dr. Larsen-Mitchell celebrated 65 students who have completed the four-year course offering up to 30 college credits for high school students who want to become teachers.

“We train our teachers to be anything from preschool teachers to high school teachers to special education teachers to speech language pathologists,” said Rachel Ruttan, teacher and education and training instructor at Rancho High School.

Dr. Larsen-Mitchell said new teachers are needed more than ever, sharing the last time CCDS was fully staffed was when she started teaching in 1994.

Ruttan brought 11 of his students on stage.

“We want to train our own teachers…There is nothing more special than having a student representing their own community, their own background, and coming back and teaching in the schools where they were taught” , Ruttan said.

Students are eligible to enter the classroom as emergency substitutes.

“I tell students right now that if you need a job after you graduate, you have it. You can work right down the hall,” Ruttan said of emergency locum positions that only require a high school diploma.

A student graduating from the program stumbled across the teaching trail and fell in love.

“I didn’t even know what the course was about until I got in and I loved it. I’m in love with it and I want to be a teacher now,” said Ivette Falcon, a high school graduate from Las Vegas.

Falcon is majoring in education at the College of Southern Nevada. She was born and raised in Las Vegas.

“I want to stay at SDCC, but I don’t know, it depends on how life goes,” Falcon said.

Rancho High School graduate Maria Medina Lara felt the impact of the teacher shortage.

“I have a permanent substitute teacher for my English class,” Medina Lara said.

Medina Lara is convinced that she wants to return to CCDS as a high school history teacher and make a difference in the community.

“I feel like the students in the neighborhood I grew up in need to see role models like us in the classrooms,” Medina Lara said.

Both Falcon and Medina Lara plan to apply to become emergency replacements. Some alumni of the program already are.

There is no guarantee that education and training graduates will return to SDCC, but the district hopes they will stay here, as they live here and have families here.

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