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Innovative Residency Program Will Build Teacher Workforce

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Caitlin Tumlinson
Caitlin Tumlinson, Nine Mile Falls EA president and WEA board director

As educators, we know the type of training and support we need to be effective and what we need to feel welcome in our K-12 public schools.  That's why we are the best experts to create a program to support emerging educators and help build the certificated workforce of the future.

WEA is proud to announce a new program backed by the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) to create supports for Emergency Substitutes and to build an educator residency program. This federally-funded, one-year in-classroom apprenticeship will bridge pre-service and emergency certificated teachers into certification with wrap-around professional and financial supports.

"A residency program absolutely makes sense," said Caitlin Tumlinson, president of Nine Mile Falls Education Association and WEA board director. "A low-barrier pathway that allows these educators to get the support, training and certification while staying in the classroom and continuing to support their families is sorely needed in this state; especially if it helps our workforce more closely reflect the diversity of our students."

We know both from our experiences and from data that Black, Indigenous and Latinx educators are more likely to leave the profession early. Drawing from the experiences of WEA educators, we will put in place supports that better meet the needs of these teachers to help build a more representative workforce. Additionally, we know that some districts are having difficulty recruiting. We can mobilize resident-teachers to provide additional staffing in those areas.

Washington's teacher shortage is a well-documented problem that we must address before it has any additional impact on student learning. In 2021, there were only 0.59 hires nationally for every job opening in education, a huge decrease. And in a 2022 poll a third of WEA members, disproportionately people of color, said they're considering leaving the profession. The new residency program will create a scalable, sustainable solution to grow the pipeline of certificated teachers and retain them in the profession.

WEA is proud to step up and help address the growing staffing shortage. Today marks the beginning of the project; while the goals are clear, details are coming. Together, we can make sure our students all receive uninterrupted high-quality learning.

"I am excited that WEA is working with OSPI on this project," Tumlinson noted. "WEA is already a recognized leader in professional development and educator training, and we have a network of accomplished, practicing educators that can build this program, support our newest colleagues and provide a certification pathway in areas that need it most, across the state."

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