For years, New Mexican children have felt the effects of a teacher shortage in our schools, but a recent partnership between The University of New Mexico and Albuquerque Public Schools is trying to close the gap.

The program, Albuquerque Teacher Residency Partnership (ATRP), aims to prepare student teachers for their roles as educators and boost retention.

“It’s a paid internship for teacher preparation,” College of Education Professor, Marjori Krebs said. “I think the choice to become a teacher, for some people, becomes easier with our residency in place because of the financial support provided.”

The program is intended for students who hold a bachelor’s degree in any degree field. As with any teacher preparation program, students are required to complete full-time student teaching in the classroom.

“There are paid internships for almost every profession: engineering, law, medicine, cosmetology and they all have paid internships but those wanting to be teachers don’t have that.” - Marjori Krebs, professor, College of Education

APS has helped contribute to that change in Albuquerque. The school district provides UNM with a $464,000 grant to fund ATRP. Each resident receives a $15,000 stipend and a full year of teacher residency, compared to the 16 weeks of classroom experience most graduate students get if they’re enrolled in the traditional teacher preparation model.

“ATRP includes more intense field experience, plus they’ll double their time being mentored by a master teacher and they also receive a stipend to assist them for that year,” Krebs said. “You can’t afford to quit your job to become a teacher and that’s what we’re asking people to do.”

This year, New Mexico Workforce Connection has also helped financially support residents who are accepted into ATRP.

“Because this is considered an apprenticeship, it meets the qualifications for residents to receive some funding through Workforce Correction,” Krebs said.

Krebs said this financial support has helped residents stretch their $15,000 stipend.

The program is in its second year. The partnership includes UNM, APS and the Albuquerque’s Teachers Federation.

“We meet once a week,” Krebs said, “All of the decisions that affect the residency are made together from selecting the schools we’re going to teach in to reviewing and interviewing applicants.”

ATRP partners with Community Schools in Albuquerque including: Emerson Elementary School, Rudolfo Anaya Elementary School, Van Buren Middle School and Highland High School. The coursework is also tailored to what teachers in New Mexico are facing.

“Our teacher residency focuses on Community Schools and Title I schools,” Krebs said. “By the time our residents complete the program, they want to be in those schools because they see the benefit for the children and they know if we can support them and their families, then children are more likely to stay in school while decreasing mobility.”

Every year, ATRP has 25 open slots. There is a two-part application process; students who are interested are also required to pass the teacher entry exam.

“We want to be selective because the other part of the teacher residency is students will agree, once they complete licensure, to teach for APS for two years,” Krebs said. “APS also agrees that if a student completes the program successfully, in return, it will hire them for two years.”

UNM’s College of Education is currently accepting applications for “Cohort 3” of ATRP that will begin in the summer of 2020. Applications are due Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020.

“APS and UNM are committed to this program and I think it shows we have a strong partnership,” Krebs said.