San Juan College + Western New Mexico University = Success

Two SJC students who are enrolled in the TeachUp Academy are meeting with a Western New Mexico Advisor

San Juan College (SJC) and Western New Mexico University (WNMU) partnered last January to address the teacher shortage in New Mexico. In 2021, New Mexico had a shortage of 1,727 educators; 1,048 of those were teachers.

As a solution, SJC and WNMU coordinated their efforts and presented a proposal for TeachUp to the state legislative finance committee. TeachUp utilizes two evidence-based strategies designed to help meet immediate needs while ensuring a stable pipeline of teachers. Grow Your Own, provides educational assistants with a path toward advancement and Earn While You Learn/Job Sharing, allows educational assistants to work half-time and attend college full-time.

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 SJC President Dr. Toni Hopper Pendergrass.

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

Educational assistants, substitute teachers, high school students interested in an education career and unemployed, underemployed and displaced workers are among the target audiences for new teacher candidates. Of the 131 currently enrolled in TeachUP through SJC and WNMU, 63 are employed by local school districts.

“Since the implementation of the TeachUp program, in partnership with San Juan College, we have seen a spike of interest from individuals looking to serve in the communities in which they live and raise their families,” says Dr. Joseph Shepard, President of Western New Mexico University. “The demand for qualified and diversified educators in classrooms around New Mexico continues to increase, and WNMU is proud to be on the front lines to fill that gap in accordance with being New Mexico’s premier teaching college.”

“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 take online and face-to-face classes that are flexible with their work schedules.

”Students can receive their entire degree on the San Juan College campus. Lower division courses have been offered through SJC in Elementary Education, Secondary Education, Special Education and Early Childhood Education, 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. SJC students also have access to advising by WNMU staff before, during and after their transition to WNMU. All of the SJC coursework required for their associate degree program will be applied toward completing bachelor’s degrees through WNMU.

For more information on the TeachUp program, email or call 505-566-3044. 

Call:  (505) 566-3044 

4601 College Blvd., Farmington, NM 87402