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Back to School: From long-term substitute to first-year teacher

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Posted at 12:33 PM, Sep 08, 2023

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — One first-year teacher at KIPP Adelante Prep Academy is living out his childhood dream thanks to the Teach Start program. He's also positively impacting the next generation of students and keeping them in the classroom.

Benjamin Duran is in his first year of teaching 8th-grade history full time, but it's actually year two for him. He was a long-term substitute for students in southeast San Diego last school year.

"I had a lot of great teachers in my life and a lot of teachers that motivated me to do more. I always wanted to be that person. I just so happened to become a teacher," Duran says. "There are other ways that I could've helped my community, but I felt that this was my calling,"

Duran is a DACA recipient.

He is able to teach students who have a similar story because he joined a program called Teach Start.

"I definitely feel like I'm part of the community and I see myself in the community I grew up in," he said.

The program was created to mend the teacher shortage by letting people with the teaching bug teach while they gain the credentials they need.

"I remember seeing Mr. Duran teach and saying, 'We have to hire him,'" said Principal Roxanne Cowperthwaite.

Cowperthwaite said any teacher residency program really helps pipeline strong educators.

Duran's goal when students enter and exit his classroom is to let them know he believes in them

"Because they need the motivation so that they can push themselves even after they leave our school just so that they can have that mindset they can do anything they set their mind to," he explained.

That's something Cowperthwaite said Duran did during his time as a sub.

"He was just so incredible with our kids, building relationships. We actually had a couple of students who had chronic absenteeism, but started coming to school because of the relationship they built with him," she said.

Duran hopes to see some of his students go to college.

"I think it'd be even better to know that they're doing better in life mentally and they're still motivated, even if they didn't have to go to college," he said.