UC Merced fighting Central Valley teacher shortage with new credential program

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- A recently-launched program at UC Merced is training more teachers in the North Valley as Central California continues to deal with a teacher shortage.

"The Central Valley has a harder time attracting teachers, even if they start here they tend to go to the bigger cities," said Lynn Reimer, director of Education Programs at UC Merced.

Last year, the university launched the Teacher Preparation Program in an effort to train more teachers in the North Valley. To that point, students in the North Valley would have needed to travel to Fresno or Stanislaus for a credential program.

"Many of our students don't drive, so to have something local and convenient, it's predominantly students from the Valley who are in our program," Reimer said.

The Central Valley has been dealing with a teacher shortage for a while, according to Reimer.

"There's been a teacher shortage for a number of years... it's slowing down which is a good sign," she said.

The first graduate of the program, Berenice Cervantes, is now teaching algebra at Sierra High School in Manteca.

"I never thought I would want to do it, but once you're in the classroom that's when it finally clicked together," Cervantes said. "It was like okay, this is what I want to do."

"In today's market, we do hire a lot of interns and pre-interns who have not completed a full prep program," said Anthony Chapman, assistant principal at Sierra High. "When we sat down with her, you could tell she was well-prepared."

Back at UC Merced, Reimer is currently in the midst of the program's second year. The first year, there were 14 students. This year, there are 43.

For more on the Teacher Preparation Program at UC Merced, click here.
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