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Supporting future educators: Dallas College offers teacher apprenticeship program

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - As North Texas school districts struggle with staffing shortages, Dallas College is kicking off a first-of-its-kind teacher apprenticeship program to help get well-trained educators into classrooms.

The goal is to not only help students who want to become teachers, but also districts who are having a hard time filling positions.

"I'm looking forward to being able to work with the students, teach, get experience, which I desperately want," said Ramia Dawes, who is part of the first class of teaching apprentices.

Dawes, a mother of two, is currently getting her Bachelor's degree in early childhood education at Dallas College.

"I've been a school bus driver for 11 years, so I've worked with students," she said. "I've just always wanted to be in the classroom with them."

In a more traditional program, the only way to get that critical classroom experience is as an unpaid student teacher. This apprenticeship gives Dawes the chance to earn $30,000 a year to work at school while completing her degree.

"I was like, this is amazing," Dawes said. "It's unheard of. Nobody in Dallas is doing this. I get to get paid, and go to work, and graduate. I can't be more excited."

RISD is the first school district to join the program. For a year, the apprentices will spend three days a week in a Richardson school as classroom interns, one day as a substitute teacher, and the final day doing coursework at the college.

"I believe this will be the start of many other programs trying to replicate this," said Tabitha Branum, the interim superintendent of Richardson ISD. "This really is an exemplar not just for the support to provide a future educator, but also for a district to create a pipeline of educators."

After their apprenticeship is over, Richardson ISD will offer the students full time positions. In return, they ask for a three-year commitment to the district.

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