Future educators practice hands-on learning techniques.

Teacher layoffs during the recession deterred many students from pursuing teaching careers, leaving many areas in a state of severe teacher shortage. To ensure there are enough teachers both now and also in the future, California’s Fresno Unified School District created the Teacher Academy program to support high school students through their journey of becoming quality educators.

Nearly 50 Teacher Academy participants and mentors traveled more than two hours to visit Silicon Valley’s Resource Area For Teaching – RAFT, to practice new hands-on learning techniques and explore the nonprofit’s unique resources. RAFT works with more than 12,000 educators, providing effective, affordable, and engaging teaching tools to enhance student achievement, making it an ideal program for Teacher Academy.

“My favorite part of the Teacher Academy is being able to show kids new ideas and activities,” said Shia Vang, age 16, a junior at Duncan Polytechnical High School in Fresno, CA. “Connecting with the children allows them to become open-minded and more enthusiastic.”

The teens provided many inspirational anecdotes when asked what inspired them to become teachers. Joel Perez, a 17-year-old senior at Duncan Polytechnical High School said he is inspired by the opportunity to always be a student and to watch young minds develop. “It is important for students to have great teachers because motivation to learn improves and self-confidence is boosted, thus leading students not to follow their dreams, but rather lead their dreams.”

“To see this level of excitement and energy about teaching from such a qualified group of young students is wonderful,” said Grainger Marburg, CEO of RAFT. “It is our mission to support educators and equip them with the tools they need to succeed. We are delighted to be a part of this innovative teaching program which is making great strides in addressing the teacher shortage.”

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