ASU Havasu adds teacher degree plan
ASU Havasu is adding two teaching programs to its degree offerings.
Starting in January, Arizona State’s Havasu campus will introduce a secondary education certificate, while a full elementary education degree program will launch next fall.
Campus director Raymond Van Der Riet said the effort grew from discussions with Lake Havasu Unified Superintendent Diana Asseier and Director of Personnel Jaime Festa-Daigle about regional teacher shortages and the need for communities to “grow their own” teachers.
Van Der Riet said he expects interest in the program will be high, despite recent political attention to low teacher pay in Arizona.
“A number of our students have organically made decisions to become teachers regardless of those factors,” Van Der Riet said. “Even though we didn’t have a teacher program, eight of our students are teaching now in Arizona and California.”
Still, the program will start small with between eight and 10 students. The program will be led by English instructor Jenna Lowder, who was a teacher in Lake Havasu City schools for 15 years before she joined ASU Havasu’s faculty. She said education students can expect a full
teaching program, with curriculum developed in close consultation with ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. Students enrolled in the program can expect plenty of in-classroom experience through partnerships with local school districts. Lowder said the ASU
Havasu program requires two semesters of student teaching at multiple school sites, working with guidance from local mentor teachers.
Asseier said Lake Havasu Unified School District, along with districts throughout Mohave and La Paz counties, have a great need for elementary teachers.
“Nationwide there’s a waning interest in teacher education,” she said. “Not as many people are going into it as they used to. But we do have some people who are interested, and they are passionate, but there are so many barriers to getting a degree locally. When we have local people we can encourage and provide an option for them, it helps us grow our own.”
Van Der Riet said the elementary education degree is ideal for students entering college as freshmen, but the campus will also work with transfer students from Mohave Community College and other schools.
Mohave Community College has an transfer arrangement with Northern Arizona University for prospective teachers, but there isn’t currently a way for students to obtain a four-year degree or teaching certificate while staying in Lake Havasu City. MCC instructor Stephanie Derringer said students at the community college can earn an associate of arts degree in education or early childhood education, and she said the campus helps students easily transition to NAU’s bachelor degree program. She said MCC officials are looking forward to working with ASU Havasu on a similar transfer arrangement.
Asseier said Havasu teachers may moonlight as instructors in the new ASU Havasu programs. She also pointed to rising interest in teaching as a profession among high school students. The Educators Rising program at Lake Havasu High School has doubled in enrollment, she said. “There is a lot more interest for students, and now that they’ve explored it, they may consider teaching as a career.”