ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — On Monday, the New York State United Teachers recognized 12 graduates of the Classroom Academy. State officials hope the New York State apprenticeship program for teachers will help prevent a teacher shortage.

According to the New York State Department of Education, the state will need 180,000 new teachers because of retirements within the next ten years. Roberta Reardon, Commissioner NYS Department of Labor, says the Classroom Academy was created to help districts hire qualified teachers while allowing prospective students to enter the teaching profession without a financial burden.

“This is a game changer,” Reardon said. “The Career Academy is the first of its kind in the country. It’s a registered apprenticeship, a two-year program here, and they do their teaching every day they have a job, they’re paid.”

Each apprentice receives a $22,000 annual living stipend and is eligible for SUNY tuition assistance.

Colleen McDonald, Director of the NYS Educator Workforce Registered Apprenticeship Program HUB, says they receive applications from many who switch careers.
“And many decided they wanted to do teaching because they wanted to have more of an impact,” McDonald said. “They wanted a career that can make a difference and change young minds.”

Travis Reynolds is a second-year resident who says that his journey toward graduation has become a full-circle moment. Because starting this fall, he will be a 4th-grade teacher at the same elementary school he attended as a child.

“I get to go back and be a Hudson Falls Tiger,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds heard about the program from a former apprentice working at the Hudson Falls school while shadowing a teacher for another program. He says his family is proud that he chose to change career paths and become a teacher.

“There are just no words,” Reynolds said. “it’s been such a crazy ride and so fulfilling and exciting.”

Colleen McDonald says they want to expand the program, including more state school districts, and offer more apprenticeships.

“Where they are learning about all of the non-instructional duties too,” McDonald said. “All of the things besides teaching the reading and the math that you need to do to make your students and their families succeed.”