NEW YORK, (WWTI) — Governor Hochul announced the launch of the Empire State Teacher Residency Program through the New York State Department of Labor to create two-year residency opportunities for graduate-level K-12 teacher candidates, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

The program provides $30 million in funding for local public school districts and BOCES to subsidize master’s degree or teaching certification programs for qualified residency program candidates.

The program will prioritize diversity among candidates and partnering mentors with a focus on high-need subject areas and locations facing shortages, providing support for communities in need and teachers from diverse backgrounds, according to the governor’s office.

“With the tremendous responsibility of inspiring and shaping the minds of younger generations, New York’s teachers deserve to be set up for success,” Governor Hochul said. “This investment will ensure new teachers have the mentorship and support to adapt to a challenging and ever-changing field. New Yorkers deserve the best education, and our teachers are essential in providing that.” 

Teachers in training are given a mentor and real teaching experience under the mentor’s supervision as part of the residency programs, which the governor’s office said has been proven to dramatically increase teacher retention rates and improve the experience of educators in the early years of teaching.

The governor’s office said programs like these expand access to high-need communities that often face barriers by reducing costs and incentivizing teachers to work in locations facing shortages.

“Teachers are essential to our communities, and we need them now more than ever. We must support and empower new teachers in their careers, especially as we all adapt to a new age of education. I thank Governor Hochul for continuing to make strategic investments to help attract and retain these vital professionals.” New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said.

As part of the funded programs, SUNY, CUNY and private colleges will partner with public school districts and BOCES to provide reduced or free tuition for teaching candidates. Books, fees, resident wages, fringe and stipends for living expenses would be included.

“SUNY has long played a key role in preparing teachers to educate the next generation of leaders in classrooms statewide. We need highly-qualified, passionate, and dedicated teachers now more than ever, as the pandemic impacted students both academically and emotionally. As the teaching profession has evolved, our colleges and universities have expanded programs and increased support to ensure graduates’ success,” SUNY Interim Chancellor Deborah F. Stanley said.”

“Last year alone, about 7,500 SUNY students were awarded teacher certificates. More are needed, and from all backgrounds, as we know students who have teachers who look like them and share their life experience have better outcomes. We applaud Governor Hochul for her commitment to education and are proud of SUNY’s contribution to the new residency program.” 

More information about the Empire State Teacher Residency Program is available on the Department of Labor website.