Plan aims to convert students into teachers in schools beyond the urban core
Otero Junior College in La Junta and the University of Colorado Denver are launching a partnership that officials hope will help end Colorado’s rural teacher shortage.
The program will allow students to get a bachelor’s degree in elementary education that can be finished entirely at OJC’s 1,500-student campus in southeastern Colorado.
“Our primary goal is to educate the teacher-preparation students locally and ideally they will stay in La Junta or in the local area to teach,” CU Denver spokeswoman Emily Williams said.
Colorado is short nearly 3,000 new teachers, with the scarcity especially bad in rural parts of the state. The shortage is the focus of House Bill 17-1003, which calls for officials to come up with a strategic plan to recruit, prepare and retain teachers.
Under the plan, Otero students take 60 credits during their first two years to get an associate’s degree. They will then apply for admission to CU Denver with the application fee being waived.
Students will continue to study on the Lamar campus, taking a combination of education courses offered in-person by Otero and online by UC-D. They will be given teaching internships and student teaching experiences in southern Colorado schools, for a total of 66 credits.
Students will earn a bachelor’s degree in education and human development and a teaching license from CU Denver, say officials.