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Arizona turning to veterans to bridge state teaching shortage

(AP Photo/Marco Garcia, File)

PHOENIX — Arizona is suffering from a growing teacher shortage, but the state may have a solution, albeit a temporary one: veterans.

“The Veterans Reach to Teach Initiative provides an opportunity for veterans who have served our country, to now serve their classrooms by allowing them to fill in as full-time substitute teachers and prepare our communities for success,” Arizona state Rep. Reginald Bolding said.

Bolding said districts who have a large number of teacher vacancies are turning to the veteran initiative.

“Anytime you have (a shortage of) 3,000 (teachers) projected by over 230 school districts, you have to have a solution in place,” he said.

The initiative is supported by Teachers on Call Arizona, the Checkered Flag Run Foundation, and other organizations that assist Valley veterans in becoming guest teacher substitutes.

The program ensures veterans are ready to lead a classroom by “offering any veterans or family members of veterans who hold a bachelor’s degree, to actually pay for their substitute teaching certificate,” Bolding said. “And also fully fund the cost for their fingerprint clearance card.”

Those are two of the major hurdles to becoming a substitute.

“We’re hoping that some of these veterans will turn from substitutes to actually full-time teachers,” Bolding said.

Veterans could be ready to teach as soon as Aug. 1.

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