AUSTIN (KXAN) — Amid ongoing teacher shortages nationwide and an anticipated loss of school principals in the Austin area, Austin Community College is rolling out two new certification programs later this year.

ACC will soon launch a teacher’s residency and a principal certification program. Rebecca Miller, program coordinator for the principal certification program, told KXAN a 28-school district study conducted by ACC found 50% of districts have campuses with principals who will be retiring in the next three to five years.

“We really, really want to be able to have people who know how to develop and cultivate and keep teachers, because that’s what our kids need,” she said.

The two-year program will feature a first year of intensive coursework with night classes twice weekly, with the second year centered around on-campus mentorship and support from ACC field supervisors.

Those entering the program will need to have a bachelor’s degree and a teaching certificate, as well as have already earned a master’s degree or are in their final semester of coursework.

Miller said ACC is eyeing a fall 2023 program launch, pending final review and approval from the Texas Education Agency and the State Board for Educator Certification.

She said ACC has financial aid options available, with officials trying to keep the program at a more accessible and competitive cost point to increase the number of potential enrollees. The more people ACC can attract from a wide range of backgrounds, the better the quality of education children can receive, she said.

“[Children] need that consistency, they need that continuity, and you know, people that really care about making their learning experiences the best possible,” Miller added.

Those same sentiments of consistency and continuity come into play with ACC’s teacher residency program, a one-year pilot program to help attract more teachers to the workforce.

Michelle DeLeon, the teacher residency launch coordinator at ACC, told KXAN the goal of the program is to help fulfill teacher vacancies on campuses with highly qualified candidates who’ve had classroom experience.

Those entering the residency need a bachelor’s degree to be eligible. From there, they apply to ACC’s general teacher certification program and, once accepted, interview with the residency program team.

The one-year program includes coursework once a week during the summer and into the academic year, with the four other days spent paired with an experienced host teacher. From there, residency students can work on campus, undergo classroom training opportunities and learn best practices.

DeLeon said her hope is that this residency gives prospective teachers a better perspective on how campuses operate. Those who participate will also get compensated with a stipend or salary.

DeLeon said ACC is currently meeting with area ISDs to build partnerships and has a deadline of May 1 for applications. From there, they are looking to roll out the pilot.

“We all want our kids to have the best instruction from the very beginning no matter what, right?” she said. “So I think that’s what’s exciting to see, is that as we’re preparing people for that first year, they’re ready to go. And they’re providing quality instruction to all of our students.”

Those with questions on the principal certification program can contact Miller’s office at 512-223-4088.