San Juan College (SJC) and Western New Mexico University (WNMU) partnered last October to address the teacher shortage in New Mexico.

Top of the clocktower against a bright blue sky.

In 2021, New Mexico had a shortage of 1,727 educators; 1,048 of those were teachers.

As a solution to the statewide shortage, SJC and WNMU coordinated their efforts and created a proposal called TeachUp. During the 2022 legislative session, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed HB 2, which provided $2 million in appropriations for TeachUp, with SJC and WNMU each receiving $1 million. The funding provided tuition, fees and books for 40 students per year, as well as staffing including faculty, advisor/ recruiters, a program director and administrative assistant, as well as recruiting and marketing efforts.

“We are grateful for our partnership with Western New Mexico University and for the generous funding that is being provided to educate future teachers,” says San Juan College President Dr. Toni Hopper Pendergrass.

TeachUp has been extremely successful in its first semester. With 47 students enrolled this fall at SJC and 28 enrolled through WNMU, the program allows students to complete their teaching degree completely free, including tuition, fees and books.

“We are especially excited of the impact this coordinated effort will provide in serving our local school districts,” continued Pendergrass. “We have surpassed our goal of 40 students for the entire year in our first semester. TeachUp is a wonderful opportunity for our students to earn their teacher education degrees without having to leave this community. Students can even ‘earn while they learn’ by taking online and face-to-face classes that are flexible with their work schedules. Of the 75 currently enrolled in SJC and WNMU, 34 are employed by local schools.”

Students can receive their entire degree on the San Juan College campus. Lower division courses have been offered through SJC, while the upper division courses are offered by WNMU professors on SJC’s campus, online and via some hybrid options. San Juan College students are guaranteed admission to WNMU upon completion of an Associate of Arts and/or an Associate of Science degree.