National University and Teach For America Form Partnership to Train Teachers and Leaders in San Diego

June 3, 2016

Alternative pathway provides diverse STEM teachers as schools face shortage; Partnership also represents strengthened effort to prepare inspiring teachers

SAN DIEGO, June 3, 2016 – As teacher shortages continue to be a topic of concern nationwide, Teach For America-San Diego and National University are launching a new partnership to prepare teachers and leaders in San Diego. The two nonprofit educational institutions will work together to credential a diverse corps of new teachers who will make an initial two-year commitment to serve in low-income schools and become lifelong leaders in the effort to end educational inequity. The accelerated pathway program allows corps members to serve as a teacher while earning a preliminary teaching credential, and includes the option of earning a master’s degree.

More than 25 Teach For America-San Diego corps members are in the first cohort that begins training this summer through the Sanford College of Education, which was named after philanthropist and entrepreneur T. Denny Sanford. The University has among the top ten largest schools of education in the country, and is leading a national effort to provide in-service and pre-service PreK-12 teachers with access to two research-based programs based on the vision of Mr. Sanford. This includes Sanford Inspire, which is a framework for producing inspiring teachers, and is based in part on Teach For America’s Teaching as Leadership techniques.

“This partnership with Teach For America aligns with our mission to provide multiple pathways for quality and inspiring teachers, particularly as California and other regions around the country face a shortage of educators,” said Dr. Michael R. Cunningham, Chancellor of the National University System, which includes National University.

The corps members will be hired to teach hard-to-staff subject areas in low-income schools across San Diego this fall, and commit to working for educational equity inside and outside of the classroom beyond their two-year commitment. The majority of corps members will teach science or math instruction, to help put more low-income students on track for careers in San Diego’s innovation economy, as well as special education, a serious shortage area at many K-12 schools.

“National University has a strong tradition preparing education leaders through our ability to quickly adapt to demographic and policy trends in the PreK-12 education landscape,” said Dr. David Andrews, President of National University.

The partnership announcement comes as California school administrators look for innovative ways to address the state’s teacher shortage and talent crisis, and to diversify the workforce. According to various studies, the supply of California teachers is at a 10-year low, and anticipated retirements are expected to create 100,000 job openings over the next decade, creating a greater need for quality and inspiring teachers.

In the past three years, Teach for America–San Diego has recruited 80 outstanding leaders into education and established itself as a reliable source of teachers who share identities with their students. Of the more than 20 new teachers in classrooms during the 2015-16 school year, about 80 percent identify as people of color or come from low-income backgrounds, while 57 percent are first-generation college graduates.

"We sought this partnership to provide our corps members a values-aligned and flexible educational experience,” said David Lopez, Executive Director of Teach For America-San Diego and a native of the North Park community of San Diego. “National University is an innovator in the teacher training space, and together we will prepare a new generation of teachers and leaders to make a difference for kids."

National University’s programs are offered both online and on campus through a unique one-class-per-month format, which allows the Sanford College of Education to be responsive to policy and demographic changes impacting PreK-12 education.  The College is also accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), which recognizes its rigorous evidence-based standards for teacher education programs.

Teach For America-San Diego corps member, Whitney Brooks, has been enrolled in a master’s degree program at National University since September, and will be earning her teaching credential this school year while teaching special education at the San Diego Center For Children. The cohort will take most of their coursework in the hybrid format where they meet once a week and do assignments in between class meetings online.

“I like National University because you take one class per month, which allows you to work, take classes, focus on the subject matter, and not feel overwhelmed,” said Brooks, a San Diego native. “The professors are accessible, and the assignments are directly related to what you are doing in the classroom.”

About Teach For America
Teach For America works in partnership with communities to expand educational opportunity for children facing the challenges of poverty. Founded in 1990, Teach For America recruits and develops a diverse corps of outstanding college graduates and professionals to make an initial two-year commitment to teach in high-need schools and become lifelong leaders in the effort to end educational inequity. Today, 8,600 corps members are teaching in 52 urban and rural regions across the country while more than 42,000 alumni work across sectors to ensure that all children have access to an excellent education. Teach For America is a proud member of the AmeriCorps national service network. For more information, visit and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

About National University
Founded in 1971, National University is one of the largest private, nonprofit institutions of higher education in California. With more than 150,000 alumni, National University is the flagship institution of the National University System. National University is dedicated to making lifelong learning opportunities accessible, challenging, and relevant to a diverse population of students. Two Colleges and four schools – the College of Letters and Sciences; the Sanford College of Education; the School of Business and Management; the School of Engineering and Computing; the School of Health and Human Services; and the School of Professional Studies – offer more than 100 graduate and undergraduate degrees and 23 teacher credentials. Programs are offered at locations throughout California and across the nation, and are also available online. National University is headquartered in La Jolla, California. To learn more, visit

Media contacts:

National University
Anna Cearley
Director of Public Relations

Teach For America
Kathryn Phillips