Pinal County schools to get teachers with foreign experience
The Arizona Republic
May. 27, 2006

Lisa Nicita
Program particularly recruiting those from Latin America

Pinal County schools will be on the receiving end of teachers with international experience thanks to a new between Central Arizona College and Arizona State University.

The Pinal Post-Baccalaureate Partnership will funnel certified teachers with foreign teaching experience, particularly in Latin American countries, directly into classrooms in the fast-growing county.

Students in districts like Coolidge, Florence and Maricopa will directly benefit from the program, which also looks to diversify Pinal County's teaching staff to better reflect the area's growing Hispanic population.
"This program is a way of recruiting some people who are traditionally underemployed, bringing them to the county where we have need and giving the schools some qualified bodies," said Ray Polvani, a consultant with Central Arizona College who helped brainstorm the idea for the program about a year ago.

Approved by the Arizona State Board of Education and in partnership with the Mexican Consul General's Office, the program will recruit specific students, ones who are living in the U.S. legally and have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, but aren't yet certified to teach in Arizona. The two-and-a-half-year post-graduate program will earn the student a master's degree in curriculum and instruction and an English as a second language provisional endorsement.

Program administrators are specifically looking for Latin American immigrants who were employed as teachers before coming to the U.S. The program, a first of its kind in Arizona, will fast track the students through the certification and master's degree process in addition to offering a mentorship program.

In exchange, the students must commit to at least a three-year stay at a school in a Pinal County school district.

"We're hoping that by having them commit to three years, and becoming part of those communities . . . we are hoping they will settle into those areas,"
Polvani said.

The program is designed to specifically address the need for Spanish-speaking teachers who will be able to assist with English-language learners. Polvani said more and more students have been entering Pinal County classrooms with a need for English language instruction.

"We're trying to go as far as we can to find people that can assist students but not violate the law," he said. "We are not trying to do bilingual education."

Candidates for the program must be fluent in English, and although recruitment is looking specifically at teachers from Latin America, it is open to candidates who have a valid bachelor's degree.

Polvani said the hope is to begin the program this fall with 25-30 people and increase enrollment by the same figure each semester.