AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Officials with West Texas A&M University, along with Amarillo College, announced a new program Monday, aimed at increasing the number of teachers throughout the Texas Panhandle.

Officials from West Texas A&M University said in an announcement that the One2Teach program is expected to reduce the time and the cost for high school students who want to become teachers in the Texas Panhandle region. Area districts participating in the program include the Amarillo Independent School District, Canyon ISD, Dumas ISD and Hereford ISD.

“We think this new collaborative effort addresses the significant challenges of recruiting teachers and of student debt,” said Beth Garcia, the assistant dean of graduate programs and professional certifications at the Terry B. Rogers College of Education and Social Sciences. “High school students who know they have a passion for teaching but are concerned about the cost and time of pursuing that degree now have a pathway to their own classroom that will begin even before they earn their high school diploma.”

Students who participate in the program are expected to be able to save as much as 36% of the cost of a college degree and reduce the time between high school graduation and teacher certification by as much as 25%. This comes from students completing 30 semester credit hours of dual-credit classes in their junior and senior years of high school, completing core course requirements and intro education courses for one year at Amarillo College and two years of training and teacher preparation at West Texas A&M University.

“These students will be purposefully and intentionally advised on their dual-credit courses while in high school, then will finish their teacher preparation program in just three years,” said Dennis Sarine, AC’s director of teacher preparation & early childhood education. “Our area communities will benefit from a pool of highly qualified new teachers who are committed to beginning their careers in their hometowns.”

The announcement said that the students who complete the program will receive “priority placement and guaranteed interviews” at their home district. For more information, visit West Texas A&M University’s website.