Mohave Community College is working with local school districts to help tackle a problem schools are facing across the nation – a teacher shortage.

According to the Learning Policy Institute, an education think tank, the U.S. is facing its first teacher shortage since the 1990’s.   The number of students entering teacher preparation programs has dropped from 691,000 to 451,000 in the past 6 years, according to the LPI.

The impact is being felt here at home in Mohave County.

“We have a very difficult time attracting and retaining teachers,” said Lake Havasu Unified School District Superintendent Diana Asseier.  “It’s not only a problem here, but one Arizona and schools across the nation are facing.”

Asseier was one of several leaders from school districts throughout Mohave County to attend an MCC education summit called Grow Your Own.

The goal is to create a process to help identify students who are interested in becoming teachers, then work closely with the students in high school and college, and finally bring them back to local classrooms as teachers.

“This is a great idea, for all of us across the county to get together to find answers to a problem we all face,” said Mandy Wexler, director of student achievement at Mohave Valley Elementary School District.

“We’d like to have connections laid out for the students,” said Asseier, “so the student says ‘I know I can start at MCC, then transfer to ASU.’”

During the summit it was clear MCC’s resident faculty are eager to help.

“We are passionate about teaching future teachers, we want to help those students who know they want to become teachers and encourage others who are considering it,” Tara Dagres, MCC education faculty member, told the summit attendees.

“By starting with MCC, students can earn their associate degree in education and MCC can help them transfer to a university where they can earn their bachelor’s degree,” said Ana Masterson, MCC dean of student services.

Students would spend 2 years studying at MCC, then 2 more years at one of MCC’s partner universities.  Through that process of earning an associate degree, then a bachelor’s degree, students and their families will save thousands of dollars, possibly even more.

“There are a lot of funding opportunities available for students who want to become teachers and we can help guide students through that process as well,” said Masterson.

MCC and school leaders throughout Mohave County will continue to move forward together to help Mohave County grow its own future educators.

All who attended the summit agreed, students who love their hometown, want to help future generations and want job security should consider teaching as a career.