Arizona Department of Education and NAU introduce the First State Teacher Residency Program

I remember when I was preparing to become a history teacher and I had to take out student loans and work a second job because there was no compensation for my internship and student teaching experience.

That is a situation virtually all Arizona educators struggle with when preparing to enter the classroom.

Until perhaps now.

At an October 24 joint press conference between Arizona K-12 Center, Northern Arizona University, the Osborn School District, and Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman, the creation of the Arizona Teacher Residency Program was announced.

This new program is designed to recruit highly qualified individuals to become certified instructors and help reduce both the Grand Canyon state’s teacher shortage (especially in Title One and rural areas) and turnover rate.

This program, funded with a five million dollar grant from the Arizona Department of Education after receiving funds from Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds, is patterned after residency programs physicians go through and similar ones in Boston and Chicago.

The Residency Program would recruit interested college graduates (up to 30 for the first year in 2022) of any degree into the teacher residency program by placing them into a year-long instructor apprenticeship after a two-week summer orientation program. During this apprenticeship, they would receive a $15,000 stipend, qualify for access to health insurance, have a veteran teacher (who will also receive a supervisor stipend and mentor training) serve as a mentor, and work towards a master’s degree (through the Arizona K-12 Learning Center at Northern Arizona University) in elementary education. Secondary school degrees would come later.  After the first year of the residency, the new instructor is placed in a full-time position in a school district as the teacher of record for the second year of the program and paid a salary. The placement will probably be in a title one school in the Phoenix area or, when the program grows, an area (probably rural) where there is a great need for instructors on a three-year commitment.

Accepted students could apply to the Arizona Teachers Academy for additional grants or apply for student loans to cover any expenses during that first year.


During the press conference announcing this major initiative, Superintendent Hoffman stressed:

“Through this extended fieldwork and the master’s degree coursework that revolves around this experience, residents truly learn what it means to develop and sustain themselves as teachers. As a result, residencies have a strong track record of advancing teacher retention, and student achievement, too. Now is the time to establish a teacher residency program as another meaningful solution to addressing our teacher shortage.”

Northern Arizona University President José Luis Cruz Rivera commented:

“Access to education is the great equalizer in mobility, and a high-quality teacher is the largest influence in any child’s educational achievement. NAU is proud to build on the accomplishments of diversifying our teaching force and attracting individuals to this wonderful profession by adding the teacher residency program through the grant provided by the Arizona Department of Education today.”

Dr. Kathy Wiebke, the Executive Director of the Arizona K-12 Learning Center relayed:

“What will set the Arizona Teacher Residency apart from others is the involvement of the Arizona K12 Center. Residents will have access to highly trained and effective instructional mentors to help support them. Once they graduate, they will continue to have the support of the Arizona K12 Center, including professional learning focused on high-leverage practices and a community of exceptional teachers.”

Dr. Victoria Theisen-Homer, the founding director of the Arizona K-12 Learning Center offered:

“Arizona is ripe for a teacher residency. We need more highly qualified and caring teachers, more teachers who look like their students, and more teachers who will stay in the classroom. We’re really excited to build a program that honors and serves our state’s diverse communities.”

When asked about what districts the Residency program would start in and whether this program would extend to the education departments at Arizona State University and the University of Arizona, Dr. Theisen-Homer replied:

“Initially, we will partner with a few different Title-1 elementary districts in Phoenix. We will be announcing those partner districts within the next several weeks. We plan to expand to high school districts/schools and rural areas in the coming years. Once we expand to high schools, the subject areas in which we certify teachers will depend on the areas of greatest need identified by our partner districts. We will only accept residents who the districts feel they can place in the following year. We will be working closely with the individual schools and districts to meet their particular needs.

Right now, we are so excited to have a partnership with Northern Arizona University, where the leadership has provided so much support for this program’s creation. In future years, we would love to see this model expand. As a state-wide center, the Arizona K12 Center could partner with any of the state universities around initiatives like this in years to come.”

For more information on the Arizona Teacher Residency program or to apply, please go to:

Arizona Teacher Residency Fact Sheet Final