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She's a future teacher: Valencia College kicks off teacher apprenticeship program

Ruby Berthole is a student in the teacher apprenticeship program.
Danielle Prieur
Ruby Berthole is enrolled in Valencia's teacher apprenticeship program.

Valencia College has officially kicked off a teacher apprenticeship program aimed at alleviating a statewide teacher shortage.

Students in the apprenticeship program who already have an associate degree will be able to graduate with their bachelor’s in elementary education in two years.

Melissa Liriano is also enrolled in the program.
Danielle Prieur
Melissa Liriano is also enrolled in the program.

And they’ll be able to do it while getting paid to work as paraprofessionals in Orange and Osceola Schools. The cost to complete the full degree is under $10,000 dollars.

Melissa Liriano is a substitute right now. She enrolled in the program, in order to fulfill her dream of becoming a teacher.

“I love the idea that some of the credits will be earned by the work that I'm already doing. So it kind of expedites the process of me earning that bachelor's degree and getting to my goal. Plus, I'm gaining that field experience,” Liriano said.

Ruby Berthole just graduated high school. She's enrolled in the program because of its structure.

“You go into a classroom, you do the coursework, and then you can go out, do the internship and then just get the experience and it's all through the same program. And working with experienced teachers, I think that's definitely a benefit. You get kind of a mentorship too,” Berthole said.

The Florida Education Association estimates there are still more than 4,000 open teacher positions in the state that need to be filled.

Along with Valencia, Daytona State College will offer a two-years bachelors in education program.

Experts say low teacher pay, poor work environments, and early COVID-related retirement have led to a shortage of school teachers and bus drivers throughout the country.

Valencia College will hold a special open house on July 9, for students interested in learning more about the apprenticeship program. The open house will also act as a hiring event for local school districts and Valencia College.

The open house will be held on the West Campus as well as the Osceola Campus.

Danielle Prieur covers education in Central Florida.
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