LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Hundreds of classrooms in Southern Nevada are still without a permanent teacher, but becoming a licensed teacher for those already within CCSD will be a little easier thanks to a new collaboration with UNLV and the Public Education Foundation. 

In the Paraprofessionals Pathway Project, those working within CCSD, such as a teacher’s aide, can get licensed to teach full time, with their education paid for while getting mentored by other CCSD teachers. 

Ariana Hicks, 29, is a paraprofessional at Lincoln Elementary School. Hicks grew up in Las Vegas and saw for herself how some underserved areas were lacking educational recourses. 

Hicks started in food services within CCSD and then became a paraprofessional. 

“Me teaching will give those kids a chance at a good education that they didn’t they were able to get, that they didn’t think they were good enough to get,” Hicks said.

Hicks found out about the Public Education Foundation and their collaboration with UNLV.

“When someone says you can get your degree and we will pay for it, you are like really?” Hicks said.

The response to the project has been positive, according to PEF’s President Kirsten Searer. 

“We have even had bus drivers apply, people who are already committed to our kids,” Searer said. 

This year, there are 92 CCSD employees like Hicks enrolled in the Paraprofessional Pathways Project at UNLV. Their education is funded by NV EPIC grants. 

“We are all about diversifying our workforce and making sure we are filling that need,” Dr. Nicole Attwell the managing director for NV EPIC Grants said. 

As of Wednesday, there are more than 900 teaching jobs open for CCSD. 

UNLV said if a teaching candidate finishes their general education requirements, most are looking at getting their teaching license within a year. 

If you would like to apply to the program, you can click here.