In response to a pressing demand in Riverside County’s desert area, UC Riverside has launched a teacher preparation program at its Palm Desert campus in association with the Coachella Valley Unified School District.
In a place where teachers are in short supply, the partnership known as Supporting Teacher Education through Partnerships, or STEP, produces highly competent teachers in many subject areas.
The UCR School of Education is aiming to expand the program to roughly 50 students in the following two or three years, starting with six students in the inaugural session this autumn. On the university’s main campus in Riverside, there will be approximately 120 students enrolled in the teacher education program in addition to these prospective teachers.
Frances Valdovinos, assistant dean and director of teacher education at UCR’s School of Education, stated, “With this expansion, we aim to bring our strong reputation to prepare future educators in the Coachella Valley to be critical thinkers and well-rounded educators who address the needs of all students in culturally responsive ways.”
“Increasing and strengthening the teacher pipeline, diversifying the teacher pool, and closing opportunity and academic achievement gaps persistent in the region will be the main goals of the expansion into the Coachella Valley,” the spokesperson stated.
The Coachella Valley school district, in collaboration with UCR, assigns seasoned mentor teachers to supervise student teachers in classroom environments, providing them with practical instruction and insightful criticism.
The towns of Thermal and Mecca, as well as the city of Coachella, are part of this school district. 97% of the pupils are Latino, 2% are other people of color, and 1% are Caucasian. Many originate from families that left Latin American nations to work in the Coachella and Imperial valleys’ extensive agricultural regions. In the winter, when most other American fields are too cold to grow crops, this farmland serves as a vital economic engine by supplying the country with fresh fruits and vegetables.
The Coachella Valley Unified hired 76 teachers for the current school year and is now hiring for an additional 27 vacancies, indicating the high need for instructors. For the current academic year, the neighboring Palm Springs Unified School District employed 134 teachers, and as of early November, there are 12 openings. Additionally, the nearby Desert Sands Unified School District hired 143 people and currently has 32 open positions.