FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – The rural teacher residency program provides a pipeline that produces high-quality teachers who want to teach at rural schools.

Now, the success of the program has earned it two statewide awards. Schools like Golden Rod Elementary in Kerman have always faced the challenge of being the first choice for teachers.

When faced with commuting to districts 30 minutes to an hour drive away, many teachers choose to work in districts closer to Fresno. The rural teacher residency program addresses that dilemma by growing its own.

“We have kids in our rural communities that deserve the highest quality teachers and the most special thing about this program that I’m passionate about is that the teachers are coming from those communities,” said Hank Gutierrez with the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools.

The program is a collaboration between the Office of the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools and the Kremen School of Education at Fresno State. The university reaches out to students who want to teach at a rural school.

The Rural Teachers Residency Program’s goal of bringing highly qualified teachers to rural schools has earned it statewide recognition, winning two awards. The Golden Bell award from the California School Board Association and the Apple of Excellence award from the California Collaborative for Education Excellence.

“Our Rural Residency teacher program was looked at as the front runner in the cutting edge program for teacher equity and teacher diversity,” said Gutierrez.

The program already in Kerman, Firebaugh-Las Deltas and Mendota schools is expanding to include Parlier Unified, Kings Canyon, Laton and Fowler Unified.