NEWARK -- Newark Schools Superintendent Roger León made a promise to students in the auditorium at East Side High School on Tuesday.
"Any student-teacher who actually begins their studies here in our school system - we will offer them a contract," he said. "You do everything you are supposed to, this school district hands you $50,000."
The superintendent, president of the American Federation of Teachers and Montclair State University signed off on a partnership to entice East Side High School students to become educators — by handing them the opportunity to earn an associates degree while still in high school.
Montclair State University professors will educate approximately 20 to 25 students selected for the program, as students simultaneously complete their high school courses. Students must go on to get a bachelor's degree and meet other state teaching requirements to be eligible for a job.
"This is the first time that this has ever been offered," said Brian Klasner, an advisor at East Side High School who will head up the new program. East Side currently offers over 100 students the opportunity to intern in various fields, including as plumbers, electricians, broadcasters, social workers and more. But this new teaching program goes one step further.
"We are now going to be able to support the students financially," said Klasner.
The Associate's degree will be paid for by Newark Schools.
"I think it's good we all have an opportunity to pursue something we are passionate about," said Destiny DaSilva, a freshman at East Side.
Applications for freshman will open up in 2019, with the program officially beginning in 2020.