BULLHEAD CITY — Chuck Neuzil is attacking the area’s teacher shortage from the front end.

Neuzil is in charge of a program through Northern Arizona University that aims to train future teachers and make it easier for local students intent on careers in education to get on that path.

He talked about his efforts at Thursday’s Bullhead City Elementary School District governing board meeting. 

Neuzil said that the NAU program is tied with Grow Your Own, an initiative of the Bullhead City and Colorado River school districts to help residents who want to be teachers train to do just that.

One important part of the approach, he said, is an education professions class being offered at Mohave and River Valley high schools.

Those students, Neuzil said, have toured elementary classrooms, and in some cases, been involved in lessons.

The education professions also have been invited to take part in professional development activities, he said.

Future plans call for the students to work with teachers on “Flex Fridays,” which are not standard instructional days, but are days that students can come for enrichment and intervention activities.

It’s important to bring local children up as teachers, Neuzil said, citing research that says 80 percent of teachers end up working within 20 miles of where they grew up.

He also said that research shows that children learn more from teachers with roots in their area.

Mohave senior Raymond Schmitt that being in the education professions class has helped him with some insights into what teachers experience, not just inside the classroom, but also training and interactions with administrators.

He said that one portion involved creating a lesson plan and using it to “teach” his peers.

Five students from the NAU program will be student-teaching next spring in K-8 classrooms in the Bullhead City and Mohave Valley elementary districts, Neuzil said.

Also at the meeting, supporters of music education urged board members and district administrators to find a way to revive the marching band at Bullhead City Junior High School. The school has instruction in string and percussion, but doesn’t have a music teacher with expertise in brass or woodwinds.

District spokesman Lance Ross said that the previous teacher left at the end of last school year and extensive recruiting efforts landed the most qualified teacher, who teaches strings.

Band boosters said they are concerned that children will leave elementary school having had some instruction in band, but fall out of practice before getting to high school. 

The Mohave High band regularly has members qualify for state shows.

BCJH Principal Pat Young said the school is looking to resolve the situation and could have a new band teacher in place next semester.

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