A teacher shortage is nothing new, especially after the COVID-19 crisis. Just this April, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond testified in Sacramento, arguing for more funding to alleviate the problem—there were more than 10,000 teacher vacancies across California during the 2021–22 school year

On top of those figures, of the approximately 3,300 teachers employed in Santa Barbara County in 2021-22, only 35 were bilingual certified. That’s with a countywide student population that is 34% multilingual learners. Clearly something has to change to meet this great need.

Fortunately, the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) has recently awarded $950,000 to the Santa Barbara County Education Office (SBCEO) and the Gevirtz School a Teacher Residency Implementation Grant that will fund 35-40 graduate students this coming school year. The Gevirtz School will have the ability to reapply for this funding for the next four years for a potential full award of $5 million dollars in financial aid for students. It all adds up to much needed funding to support students in a program that leaves little time for an outside job.

The ultimate goal of the SBCEO Residency Implementation Project in Teacher Education is to recruit and retain graduate students enrolled in UCSB’s Teacher Education Program (TEP) in designated shortage teaching fields, such as Special Education, Bilingual Authorization, and Single Subject in a STEM Area. Additionally, the project will recruit and retain teacher candidates who reflect Santa Barbara County’s diverse student population.

“This grant is essential for recruiting high quality teacher candidates who will contribute to the diversity of Santa Barbara County’s teacher workforce and serve in high needs areas,” says Victoria Harvey, Director of UCSB’s Teacher Education Program. “If all goes as planned, an increasing number of highly prepared UCSB TEP grads will serve students in our local community in the coming years. We are thankful for the strong partnership with SBCEO and our partner schools that support our residency program.”

Funds will be strategically timed to provide graduate students stipends at two crucial moments during their program. The first stipend, provided at the start of the future teacher’s graduate program, will provide financial assistance for tuition and living expenses. The second stipend, given when graduates accept a job and sign a contract at a school in Santa Barbara County, will provide assistance as graduates transition into a teaching career in region beset by high housing costs.

In UCSB’s Teacher Education Program model, all preservice teachers are placed at partner school sites under the oversight of an IHE hired Site Supervisor. In selecting partner schools, the university requires them to serve a population of students that is reflective of the larger Santa Barbara County demographic, thereby ensuring that the teacher residents work with students from diverse socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds. Additionally, the university identifies schools that are committed to supporting emerging multilingual students and which work to serve students with disabilities in the general education classroom.

Using Capacity Grant funds, UCSB has already begun to expand credential areas for students with a Bilingual Authorization in Spanish or Special Education credential. UCSB will look to partner with existing Dual Language Immersion and inclusion programs within the partner schools, such as Adalante Charter, El Camino Elementary School, Canalino Elementary School, Santa Barbara Junior High School, as well as new ones as they develop.

“This funding from the state could not come at a better time,” says the Gevirtz School’s Jules Zimmer dean Jeffrey Milem. “We will be able to build on our already strong connections with SBCEO and area schools to recruit, select, and train new mentor teachers in target program areas. Then these leaders will mentor student teachers, who, when they earn their credentials will go on to help increase capacity in those high need areas.”

The SBCEO Manager, Credential Services, Mr. Tom Heiduk, will be the program administrator for the grant, ensuring ongoing communication between the appropriate parties and that plans for implementation of the teacher residency programs are being met using the funding from the grant. Mr. Heiduk also sits on two IHE Advisory Boards, including UCSB’s, in addition to the Advisory Board for SBCEO credential programs. Also essential to the project and the landing of the grant were Principal Investigator Amber Moran, Associate Teaching Professor and Mild/Moderate Program Coordinator, and Katie Tucciarone, Gevirtz School Credential Analyst.

TEP candidates outside Santa Barbara High School