With at least 1,300 educator vacancies statewide, Governor Lamont today announced Connecticut is using federal funding to make new investments to address educator shortages in Connecticut. This $3 million initiative will support an apprenticeship program for paraeducators seeking to become teachers as well as expand the state’s Educators Rising “grow-your-own” program for high schoolers interested in education careers.
The new Registered Apprenticeship Program builds on the state’s Teacher Residency Program—a program that helps noncertified school staff to earn their certification via hands-on training in a mentor teacher’s classroom, instruction led by classroom teachers, and a stipend to support them during the training period.
“This is an excellent step to recruit more individuals to the teaching profession, but once we recruit them, we have to do everything we can to retain them,” said CEA Vice President Joslyn DeLancey. “CEA’s legislative priorities this session would go a long way toward keeping more teachers in the classroom.”
She continued, “Many legislators have been supportive of teachers’ priorities, and we hope they will continue to support pro-public school legislation during these final three weeks of the legislative session. To maintain a highly qualified educator workforce we need measures like higher starting salaries for teachers and a COVID pension credit, which require a significant investment from the state.”
“Connecticut has the best educators in the nation, and they are the backbone of our education system,” Governor Lamont said. “While we have made some gains recently in teacher hiring, there remains a shortage in many school districts, and it is critically important that we maintain the talent pipeline necessary to address these challenges. The most important education reform is a great teacher in the classroom, and our administration remains committed to fully funding our education system.”
Waterbury Superintendent Dr. Verna Ruffin said that her district has many students participating in the Educators Rising program. “These are students that are interested in learning more about their potential to become teachers, and now we have an opportunity for these young people, in their sophomore or junior year, to receive a certification that will allow them to be a paraprofessional. We have students that are already assisting in our pre-k programs, and this opens up another world of opportunity for them because if they aspire to be teachers, they now can remain in Waterbury, then can continue to come to school, and we can continue to invest in training and preparing the future educators that we so desperately need.”
She said that, thanks to the Educators Rising program, last year, for the first time ever, she had students come up to her at graduation to say they were planning to come back to Waterbury to be teachers.
“If we want to make sure we have quality teachers and diverse teachers in the future, Educators Rising is the answer,” said New Britain High School sophomore Isaias Rodriguez Sanchez. “We have a preschool in our high school that I participate in and teach lessons, and this is all helping me build the skills I need to be successful in and out of the classroom.”
He continued, “It’s not only a club, it’s a community. It’s amazing to see that so many people share the interest and passion for teaching. I feel so supported, and it’s changed my life because I feel a sense of belonging.”