LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Staffing issues continue to plague the Clark County School District but there is a program at UNLV that is attempting to help fill the gap.

UNLV’s Paraprofessional Pathways Project is helping new educators transition to a full-time teaching career.

There are hundreds of classroom aides or paraprofessionals who help make learning possible for thousands of students. While they may not be a lead teacher, some have a desire to do that. Recent changes in laws will allow those individuals to stay employed while obtaining their licenses.

“By us being able to increase the amount of licensed teachers that are available to the district that helps to make sure that students are with folks that have the confidence of the state and background needed to be the teacher. What’s really important though about our group when we look at our first cohort about 70% of our Paraprofessional Pathways Project friends are university students of color. They match much more closely with students in CCSD,” said Kenny Varner, professor of literacy education at UNLV.

The program is an accelerated program designed for people who have an Associates’s Degree or have completed 60 credits of college. The program is one year and courses, which are in-person, hybrid, and online, are completed in six to eight weeks.

The program is also open to charter educators as well. Funding is also available to curb costs.

One teacher’s aide in the program said it’s helping her reach a life-long goal.

“We come back after missing a whole summer of pay. You don’t get any more dedication than that. Anyone that you tell ‘look you’re going to be out for three months, we’re not going to pay you.’ but we come back every year.” So that is going to help our turnaround rate. We have teachers who are experienced and know the classroom. That’s going to bring better classroom management,” said Lushawn Threats who is a teacher’s aide at Earl Jenkins Elementary School.