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Faced With Shortage, Calif. District Opens Own Teacher-Education School

In an effort to combat a regional teacher shortage, the Sonoma County, Calif., school district is planning to open its own school of education, the district announced in a press release. The school will be designed to coach and support first-time teachers and provide potential teachers with a quick pathway into the classroom.

The North Coast School of Education, located at the Sonoma County Office of Education and run through The North Coast Teacher Induction Program, is scheduled to open in early 2016 and be fully established by 2018. The school will offer teacher intern and induction programs, an administrative credential program, and designated subject-area credential programs, including in career-technical education, adult education, and special subjects.

"The need for instructors to fill our classrooms is great. But so is the opportunity to create a new generation of inspiring teachers, ones with real-world experience that equips them perfectly to help our students thrive in this new, exploratory age of learning," Sonoma Superintendent of Schools Steve Herrington wrote in a piece for The Press Democrat.

The North Coast School of Education will first launch its "Be a Teacher" intern program, an alternative-route program designed to give prospective educators quick entry into the classroom.

Karen Ricketts, director of NCTIP, noted that the program is also designed to provide affordable tuition—about $4,250 a year—and flexible class times. Candidates in the program will be able to work in classrooms as paid teacher interns by day and can complete coursework needed for credentials by night and during the weekends.

Upon completing the program with an intern credential and 160 hours of coursework, and passing the California standardized tests for teachers, students with a bachelor's degree are eligible to be hired by the state.

There are 25 teacher candidates currently enrolled in the "Be a Teacher" intern program, which is scheduled to start classes in January 2016 with a focus in special education, according to The Press Democrat. The Sonoma County Office of Education will implement credential programs for multiple and single subjects next.

 "We're hoping to create a one-stop-shop to provide our existing and future educators with innovation, accredited courses, professional coaching, ongoing mentoring, and units that allow candidates to meet their career goals and enter the teacher workforce," Ricketts said in the press release.

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