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

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.
Published: May. 4, 2022 at 10:40 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (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 graduating CCSD high school seniors are pledging to help fill the gap and become teachers and could quickly be back in the classroom.

Students can enroll in the Teaching and Training Career & Technical Education (CTE) program to begin their pathway to becoming a CCSD teacher while completing their high school diploma. CCSD currently has 30 high schools that offer the teaching program with more than 4,000 students enrolled.

Wednesday night, high school seniors from all over the Las Vegas valley graduated from the program. The high school seniors could immediately come right back as emergency substitutes as they continue their education in local colleges.

“It is critical, it is essential, it is so important that we build the teacher pipeline here in the Clark County School District. As of today, we have approximately 1,300 licensed vacancies,” said CCCSD Deputy Superintendent Dr. Brenda Larsen-Mitchell at the ceremony.

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

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

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

Ruttan had 11 of her students walk the stage.

“We want to grow our own teachers... There is nothing more special than having a student represent their own community, their own background, and come back and teach at the schools that they were taught at,” said Ruttan.

Students are eligible to enter the classroom as emergency substitutes.

“I am telling students right now if you need a job after graduation, you have it. You can work right down the hall from me,” said Ruttan about emergency substitute positions that only require a high school diploma.

A student graduating from the program stumbled upon the teaching track and fell in love.

“I didn’t even know what the class was about until I got in and I just loved it. I feel in love with it and want to be a teacher now,” said Ivette Falcon, a graduating senior at Las Vegas High School.

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

“I do want to stay in CCSD, but I don’t know, it just depends on how life goes,” Falcon said.

Maria Medina Lara, a graduating senior from Rancho High School, has felt the impact of the teacher shortage.

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

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

“I feel like that students in the neighborhood that 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 be an emergency subs. Some former students from the program already are.

There is no guarantee any of the Teaching and Training graduates will come back to CCSD, but the district is hopeful since they live here and have families here, that they will stay.