Innovative partnership formed to address teacher shortage

A teacher stands at the front of a classroom

In the true spirit of public education and unity to solve the teacher shortage crisis that schools throughout the country are experiencing, Northern Arizona University, Tolleson Elementary School District (Tolleson ESD) and Littleton Elementary School District (Littleton ESD) are proud to announce their partnership that will deliver professional career paths and teacher certification. This unique partnership is open to anyone interested in pursuing an NAU degree leading to teacher certification and a rewarding career. Through the Arizona Teachers Academy Scholarship, talented individuals interested in serving Arizona’s students can complete the necessary degree program tuition-free. Learn more online. 

“We are committed to expanding the teacher workforce and developingGrow Your Own (GYO) partnerships to increase the pipeline of certified educators committed to education equity. Graduates from this program also will receive additional support and mentoring as an early career teacher,” said Ramona Mellott, dean of NAU’s College of Education.  

According to Littleton ESD Superintendent Roger Freeman, the numbers are not in yet regarding how many teacher and staff positions remain unfilled in Arizona schools for the 2022-23 school year, but in the past few years, the percentage of unfilled positions has been 25 percent or more. 

“After parents and families, research indicates that the teachers and professionals serving our students are the most important factor leading to student success,” Tolleson ESD Superintendent Lupita Hightower said. “In fact, we describe our teachers and professionals as the magic that leads to student success. Therefore, we embrace this partnership to the fullest and are thrilled to support career paths for our community.”   

Knowing flexibility and convenience are key factors professionals seek as they look to complete degree programs, candidates can engage in courses online or in person at their local district schools at convenient times in the afternoon and evening. 

Virtual information sessions are available for candidates to learn the details about this innovative path to a rewarding career and ask questions. Interested candidates can learn more about how to register for the virtual information sessions by calling (602) 725-9510 or emailing    

Once registered, a confirmation email will be delivered to participants containing information to join the meeting online. Registration links also are available on the attached information sheet. The schedule for virtual sessions is: 

  • 4-5 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 24 
  • 4-5 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 30 
  • 5-6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 8 
  • 4-5 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 21 
NAU Communications