Identifying the Needs of Intern Teachers in High Needs Areas of the Profession: District “Must Knows” for Providing Supports and Closing the Hiring Gap




university coach, district support provider, intern teacher, a system of support, teacher shortage, high needs areas of the teaching profession


The pandemic has exacerbated teacher attrition in California with 88% of the hiring demand in high needs areas of education (Darling-Hammond et al., 2018). The shortage of credentialed teachers has increased the need to fill positions with intern teachers who have limited or no teaching experience. This is most prevalent in special education, mathematics, and science. Many intern teachers will leave the profession within the first two to five years of service. The impact will take its toll on the students with the greatest needs. This study explored the support and training needs of intern teachers in high need areas; critical components support systems needed to recruit, retain, and increase intern teacher longevity; and the existing systems of support for the intern teacher’s success and retention. The findings may assist school administrators and university faculty in designing support systems for preparing, coaching, and supporting intern teachers to ensure their success in the profession.


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Author Biographies

Patricia Maruca, Point Loma Nazarene University

Dr. Patricia Maruca is an Associate Professor and Program Director for the Master of Arts in Education in the School of Education at Point Loma Nazarene University. She teaches courses in educational administration and in the teacher education and preparation program. Her versatility comes from 25+ years of public school k-12 teaching and administrative experience. She has extensive experience working with English learners,  students of poverty, and in early intervention and prevention of reading failure. 

She knows from experience that school leaders can influence change to impact student learning positively. As a school leader, she worked closely with teachers to coach and mentor them to achieve their highest potential. 

Dr. Maruca's current research interests are in coaching and supporting leaders to find their voice, leading and teaching for equity, and the leader's role in creating systems of support and interventions for struggling readers and students with reading disabilities/dyslexia.

Dr. Maruca recently completed her work and research with secondary high school teachers working with Middle Eastern Refugee students in the area of early literacy and reading instruction. An article based on her experiences and learnings is pending publication this fall.

She is currently working with a large urban school district to learn about the needs and challenges faced by intern teacher candidates. This work will inform university and teacher preparation programs in best aligning coursework to the classroom and will apprise school districts of the types of coaching/mentoring and training required by these candidates. 

Pineda Zapata, Point Loma Nazarene University

Dr. Pineda Zapata currently serves as Associate Professor in the School of Education at Point Loma Nazarene University. She previously served as a program specialist and teacher leader in the area of special education. 

Her published works include Adapting Unstoppable Learning: How to Differentiate Instruction to Improve Student Success at All Learning Levels. Solution Tree (2017) and Meeting the Needs of Secondary Refugee Students with Interrupted Formal Education (SIFE): Teacher Professional Development in Early Literacy, English Language Development, and Pedagogical Strategies. International Journal of Diversity in Education, CGScholar. (2020).



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