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Teaching apprenticeships aim to help young educators settle in

Kenzie Wagner

While some schools face a shortage of teachers, the next generation of educators are ready for their chance in charge of a classroom. A new apprenticeship program from USD hopes to make that jump from student to teacher that much smoother.

For a young teacher, their first school year can be intimidating, but the new USD registered apprenticeship program aims to help them find their feet faster.

Jackie Wilber is the director of the university’s center for student and professional services. She said on one hand this represents an opportunity to save on the cost of entry.

“The way it’s playing out – we’re hoping every student who participates will be eligible for $6,500 in tuition reimbursement each year they participate in the program," Wilber said. "Also, they would be eligible for some of that extra funding that’s needed for things like fees that go along with teacher preparation – Praxis exams have a fee for those tests.”

On the other hand, the chance to lead a classroom firsthand.

“We really value this at USD – we were the first university in the state to move from a semester long of student teaching to creating a yearlong, robust student residency program," Wilber said. "I know myself going through teacher preparation and then ultimately becoming a teacher, it is a switch to go from being a student when you go to the front of the classroom instead of a chair in the classroom.”

Wilber said it’s a taste of postgrad life before walking across the stage.

“To see kind of the behind-the-scenes of what its like to be a teacher really opens your eyes to the feel of it," Wilber said. "That’s one of the things that I value about this so much. I’m hoping folks get their eyes open to what it’s like to be a teacher can value it more and can talk about the really great work that goes into the day-to-day.”

This apprenticeship follows in the footsteps of USDs previous teacher pathway program, which saw many graduates of that program hired into the Sioux Falls School District.

C.J. Keene is a Rapid City-based journalist covering the legal system, education, and culture