Training Teachers Like Doctors – Southern Arkansas University is Turning Teacher Prep Upside Down


This fall, Southern Arkansas University has approximately 50 paid student-teachers in southwest Arkansas, including in Texarkana. The number of residents has more than doubled since the launch of their paid residency partnerships in the spring.

SAU has always played a large role in preparing Arkansas educators: the 5,000-student school in Magnolia graduates more than 10% of all first-year university-prepared public school teachers in the state.

However, when SAU realized its program did not fully match the needs of its students, it decided to turn its teacher preparation program upside down. SAU is now training teachers like doctors – as residents who work alongside more experienced professionals. These students receive $100 a day while their mentor teachers receive $3,000 a year.

One such student, SAU senior Jeremiah Albert (pictured above left, with SAU’s Chair of the Department of Teacher Education, Dr. C. Neelie Dobbins), is co-teaching in Texarkana this fall. Nearly an hour from campus, with a car older than he is, Jeremiah worried if he’d be able to complete his residency. However, SAU proved its dedication by allowing him to use a university car to make the commute from campus to his school and back.

“The education program really does care about you,” Albert said. “They care about the success you want to achieve. They’re not going to cut you any slack. I love it – it shows that they care.”

These changes are paying off. SAU residents are getting over 600 more hours of classroom experience than in the traditional approach to student-teaching, SAU’s teacher prep program is growing faster than any other in the state, and schools are hiring SAU’s graduates en masse.

To learn more about SAU’s teacher preparation program, visit

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