Wyoming Teacher Apprenticeship standards set; Applicants can now apply

(Fremont County, WY) – Representatives from The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE), the Professional Teaching Standards Board (PTSB), and the U.S. Department of Labor have signed an agreement creating the standards for Wyoming’s Teacher Apprenticeship initiative, which will allow pilot school districts to begin taking applications from candidates for the spring 2023 semester.

“This is an important milestone in Wyoming’s education journey,” said Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction Chad Auer. “I have no doubt that Wyoming’s Teacher Apprenticeship initiative will make a tremendously positive contribution to our state.”

The WDE will begin conversations with interested school districts statewide in the fall of 2023 for apprentices that will be applying for the spring of 2024 school year. The three pilot districts chosen earlier this year to participate in the initiative include Laramie County School District #1, Teton County School District #1, and Fremont County School District #24.

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“We are thrilled to be selected as a pilot district, and find additional pathways to certify individuals who have already committed to serving students in Wyoming,” said Gillian Chapman, Ed.D. Superintendent Teton County School District #1. “We look forward to supporting the WDE as we find ways to recruit and retain exceptional educators dedicated to supporting public schools in Wyoming.”

The WDE and the PTSB began work on the Wyoming Teacher Apprenticeship initiative in the spring of 2022. That work included key stakeholders from government, education, business, community leadership, industry association and more. In July 2022, the three pilot school districts were chosen to work along with the core team in progressing the application to the Department of Labor and determine the roles and responsibilities the school districts would need to plan for.

“The apprenticeship is an opportunity for school districts to support and grow future teachers and educators from within the school district and community,” said PTSB Executive Director Brendan O’Connor. “Apprentices will be mentored along the way as they complete an educator preparation program that meets PTSB licensure requirements. Apprentices will finish with more classroom experience than those in a traditional preparation program.”

Working closely with the Department of Labor, Tennessee was the first state to sponsor Teacher Occupation Apprenticeship programs. Registered apprenticeship programs allow for high-quality, industry-driven, work-based learning pathways that provide individuals with hands-on work experience while earning a wage that increases during the progression through the initiative.

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Tennessee has paved the way for other states and is graciously sharing the results of multiple years of work in a playbook and other key materials and supports. In a meeting with Tennessee’s team, the WDE and PTSB were able to gather important information that not only confirmed various aspects of its own evolving framework, but will also allow both entities to keep things moving forward. While the WDE and PTSB do not intend to simply mirror what Tennessee has done, the entities will use these valuable resources to accelerate the process in Wyoming. 

The implementation of the Wyoming Teacher Apprenticeship initiative will be accomplished utilizing a three-phased approach, addressing the need for varied pathways to certification. The first phase focuses on staff currently employed within the district who have an associate’s degree. 

The second phase will connect staff currently employed within the district that do not have an associate’s degree, as well as people outside of the district who want to become teachers. The third and final phase will focus on building pathways for high school students interested in teaching. 

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“Shoshoni Schools are excited to be part of the Wyoming Teacher Apprenticeship pilot,” said Bruce Thoren, Superintendent Fremont County School District #24. “We have been growing our own teachers for a couple of years now, and look forward to the development of this formalized program in conjunction with the PTSB and our higher-education institutions. This program will be a win-win for our employees and for K-12 education.”

The minimum requirements or qualifications for a candidate for the apprenticeship are as follows. School districts can then add requirements or qualifications that they consider necessary, and evaluate candidates based on alignment with the needs at the individual school level:

  • Employee of the district, seeking a Wyoming teaching certificate.
  • Completed application with letter of recommendation from administrator within the district.
  • Must complete an interview by district personnel, followed by entering into an agreement to complete the degree, to complete the on-the-job learning, to obtain the Wyoming PTSB teacher certificate. Ensure the individual has the personality, skill set, and disposition that will be a good match to the profession
  • Minimum work history in the same district of one academic year.

“Educational leadership requires the courage to create innovative solutions to complex challenges,” Auer said. “The Teacher Apprenticeship initiative is another example of how Wyoming’s educators are the best in the country.” 

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For more information on the program, including frequently asked questions, visit the WDE’s Teacher Apprenticeship website here

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