The goal of Teacher Pathway is to remove systemic barriers and provide fair, affordable access to higher education for students.

“Because of this program, students are deciding to go to college and pursue their passion as a teacher, especially first-generation students who would not have been able to see that vision or even think it was possible for them," April Lee, USD School of Education recruiter, said.

The program has been successful: Last fall there were 80-100 students enrolled in Teacher Pathway in the Sioux Falls School District and 75% of those students participated for college credit. 

“The Teacher Pathway program will absolutely help to keep education in front of students as a career option, which in turn will produce the next generation of educators that will impact students in a meaningful way," said James Nold, Ed.D., assistant superintendent of Sioux Falls Public Schools.

The School of Education plans to expand similar programs using the Teacher Pathway model to other school districts in the state, including Platte-Geddes Public School, Rapid City, Wall and Native Nations of South Dakota, to address the teacher shortage in South Dakota.

“There were over 140 open teacher positions in the state when classes started this last fall,” Amy Schweinle, Ph.D., dean of the School of Education, said. “USD is in a position to be able to help address the need across the state. This is one way we can fill the gap by reaching out to high schools and helping kids realize their potential to make a difference, especially in rural areas. They can get a jumpstart on a teacher education program.”

Schweinle said she is excited about the future of the program.

“I think that these pathway programs are only going to continue to expand,” Schweinle said. “We started with this great collaboration in Sioux Falls. They came to us, and we were able to work with them to address their needs. I think we’re only going to see more and more of this across the state. There's such a need and USD is ideally and uniquely here to address the issues across the state.”

The first student to complete the Teacher Pathway program graduated this spring and will teach at Discovery Elementary in Sioux Falls.