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MUSD creates pathway for future teachers
Teacher Tiana Houx, center, in this 2016 file photo, checks on student lesson progress while they employ tablets in her fifth/sixth class at New Haven School. - photo by Bulletin file photo

Manteca Unified has established a career path for high school students to pursue that could lead them to start out earning $54,000 a year in today’s dollars while living in Manteca.
The job is teaching in the Manteca Unified School District.
The goal is two-fold. Not only does the district’s Advantage Future Teacher Pathway give students a substantial leg up  on preparing for a career as a teacher but it also gives Manteca Unified an edge in the growing teacher shortage.
Advantage Future Teacher program director Stacia Lagormarsino told Manteca Rotarians meeting Thursday at Ernie’s Rendezvous Room that there is an annual demand in the United States for 20,000 teachers but colleges are only generating 16,000 teachers a year.
The Manteca Unified board last year funded a Career and Technical Education program overseen by Kathy Ruble that’s designed to get interested students focused on a teaching career path while at the same time addressing the district’s future needs.
Bonnie Bennett, the district’s retired human resources director who worked with Manteca Unified Superintendent Jason Messer to launch the effort, noted the district offers the highest compensation package in the Northern San Joaquin Valley region for K-12 public education to attract qualified teachers.
The district also offers job recruiting fairs earlier than area districts and makes it a point to make job offers on the spot to qualified candidates that they interview the day the fair is held. More than 30 teachers were hired for the 2018-2019 school year during the job fair in February.

Manteca Unified hires
between 100 and 120
teachers every year
Manteca Unified is the largest employer in the South County with more than 3,000 employees working to educate and support 24,000 students. There are over 1,100 teachers.
Bennett noted for the past 10 years the district has had to hire 100 to 120 teachers a year. That figure includes retirements, teachers that move away or opt to take a break to raise families, as well as an average of 30 teachers who are still in their probation period that are not making the grade in the classroom as far as Manteca Unified is concerned. Then there is an average of 10 teachers a year needed for class-size reduction as well as additional positions created due to growth.
Messer said by helping mentor students and putting in place programs that can eventually help reduce their tuition costs as well as build a support system for them through their post-secondary education to help keep them focused to make sure they complete their education in five years instead of longer the district can build a relationship that will ultimately pay off for the student and the district.
“We working to home grow teachers,” Messer said.
The relationship would allow the district to secure teachers already with a strong connection to Manteca Unified and a strong likelihood that they will spend their career here.
The program is now at all five comprehensive high schools after being launched last school year as a pilot program at Manteca High. The pilot year started with 90 interested students and ended the year with 30 committed to becoming teachers.
The program is designed not only to help students on their path to becoming a  teacher but to help them find out if that is really what they want to do.
After training they have opportunities, for example, to instruct summer Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) workshops for elementary age students.
The training or activities include things such as a two-day program at the Exploratorium in San Francisco tailor-made to expose Manteca Unified Advantage Future Teachers students to techniques on how to teach science and math.
There are also teaching internships with a master teacher at the Manteca Unified high school that students involved attend as well as teaching under the supervision of a master teacher at the summer STEM boot camps.
There are twice monthly after school meetings focused on teaching practices as well as classroom observations and guest speakers.
There are field trips to universities, attendance at teachers’ conferences, experience at the Manteca Unified job fair being able to observe interviews, and such.

Program provides opportunity to earn up to 9 free college credits while in high school
The program provides free college credit for up to nine units via dual enrollment classes taught on Manteca Unified campuses. That gives students a leg up in getting into crucial community college programs critical to keeping on track to completing college education within five years.
They are also guaranteed a Manteca Unified job interview upon readiness to enter the workforce. They also will have job opportunities as aides and such while going to college to help them gain experience and earn income.
The district also plans to have competitive tuition reimbursement targeted for hard-to-fill teaching disciplines such as science, math, and special education.
The district is working with the University of Pacific and Delta College in executing the program. They are in the process of developing the same working relationships with Modesto Junior College and California State University at Stanislaus given there is roughly a 50-50 split between  Manteca Unified graduates that pursue post-secondary education in the Northern San Joaquin Valley who go north and south.
One example of that partnership has 102 students taking the Delta College assessment test on Monday to earn a foothold on their college education.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email