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Universities team up to help teacher shortage

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OKLAHOMA CITY—A pair of local universities are teaming up to help inspire young minds and keep teaching at the forefront in one urban school district.

The University of Central Oklahoma and the University of Oklahoma are partnering to expand the Urban Teacher Preparation Academy.

The UTPA is a program that works closely with Oklahoma City Public Schools to place upper-level education majors in schools throughout the district for three years of teaching experience.

Since the start of the program at UCO, 34 students have participated with 17 finding jobs as full-time teachers in the Oklahoma City Public School District.

Organizers say 13 others are student teaching and two graduates are teaching full-time in urban districts in the state.

“Those of us in higher education share a commitment to meeting the specific needs of our community. Together, UCO and OU can make a significant impact in the lives of the thousands of students enrolled in Oklahoma City’s public schools, and we’re thrilled to expand this program,” said Jim Machell, dean of Central’s College of Educations and Professional Studies.

OU’s College of Education will start its first group of students in the program for the spring 2013 semester.

OKCPS started the 2012-2013 school year with 270 teacher vacancies. Currently, they are 80 teachers short and that number could grow as more educators retire.

“We are at a critical time in education and specifically in an urban education setting with a looming teacher shortage on the horizon. It is through creative partnerships like UTPA and the thoughtful leadership at both OU and UCO that will put Oklahoma City Public Schools in a better situation to prepare our students for academic achievement,” Karl Springer, Oklahoma City Public Schools superintendent.

We’re told the program may expand to more universities in the future.