New residency program helps aspiring special education teachers get certified
Walla Walla Public Schools is partnering with the Walla Walla Valley Education Association and Washington Education Association on an innovative residency grant program to provide aspiring special education teachers a local pathway to realizing their dreams of teaching.
“This innovative program provides successful candidates with a full-year of residency in various Walla Walla Public Schools special education classrooms,” said Human Resources Director Mindy Meyer. “This partnership creates the opportunity for someone with a bachelor’s degree to earn a salary and full benefits while gaining instructional skills, pedagogy and a teaching endorsement.”
Residents will begin their learning this summer with in-person and hybrid classes. In August when teachers return to their classrooms, residents will begin working with their mentor teachers.
“One of the unique aspects of this program is that residents will get four quarters of experience in both elementary and secondary schools,” said Meyer. “Many special education teaching experiences, like most teaching experiences, often give student teachers exposure to only one or two types of classrooms or grade levels.”
This new residency provides candidates with four unique learning experiences: resource room, intensive support, behavior, and general education. Not only does this give residents a wide experience, it also prepares them for any potential special education positions in the future in Walla Walla Public Schools, according to Meyer. Residents will be part of a WEA cohort and will be able to learn from other residents and teachers in the Mukilteo and Federal Way school districts.
The residency provides opportunities for district staff to be instructors and potentially serve in other roles. The grant also provides additional supports so a resident who might not be able to receive a teaching certificate through other routes due to potential barriers, like finances and program access, has the opportunity to become a certified teacher. Residents also get a full-year of residential experience. The WEA Residency Grant also provides a majority of the tuition and other supports.
“This provides residents with customized training and WWPS with new special education teachers who have more preparation, both in the classroom and in the Walla Walla way.”
The WEA program’s first cohort began accepting applications on March 20. Admitted residents begin summer coursework in June 2023 and will enter the classroom in September 2023. For more information, visit www.WashingtonEA.org or contact the Walla Walla Public Schools Human Resources Department at (509) 527-3000.