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UNLV offers fast-track teaching program to assist with teacher shortages

Posted at 12:28 PM, Feb 24, 2022

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — In an effort to combat the current teacher shortage in the valley, UNLV has created a program to get more teachers into schools throughout Clark County.

“I have never had a life-changing experience like this one because this really opens the opportunities for people like me,” said Maria Romero, program coordinator for Nevada Graduates.

Romero works with high school students, but becoming an elementary school teacher was always her dream. She has a degree from Mexico but it doesn’t qualify her to teach in Clark County.

Thanks to UNLV though her dream can become a reality thanks to the UNLV’s Paraprofessional Pathways Project, a fast-track teaching program.

“There’s no day, that we are not working, studying, communicating, with our teachers; with our mentors, and learning,” Romero said.

The project helps students like Romero, a school aid or support staff who already has an associate's degree and are employed by a CCSD or Nevada Charter school.

“We had the opportunity to accelerate a pathway for them to achieve their dream of licensure,” said Kenny Varner, a professor of literature and part of the program faculty for PPP. “It also helps us work on the bigger goal of making sure there are enough qualified licensed teachers in classrooms.”

The teacher shortage has crippled schools in Clark County. At the beginning of the school year, CCSD said it was short more than 400 teachers.

UNLV was granted funds through the American Rescue Plan to create the program.

The Paraprofessionals Pathways Project will graduate 36 students ready to teach in the fall. By the end of 2022, it will graduate another 69 fully-credentialed educators with a passion to serve students.

“I want to make a difference when the kids are growing and instill that love for learning and that love for education,” said Romero.

The deadline to apply for the next PPP cohort is March 11. To learn more about the program and apply, click here.