Forty-five graduates who spent a year of intensive training received their teaching credentials on Saturday at a special ceremony.
The men and women who aspire to be elementary, secondary and special education teachers graduated from the Accelerated Collaborative Teacher Program created by California State University at Northridge and the Los Angeles Unified School District.
The program is funded by a five-year grant that enables prospective teachers to receive the required accreditation faster. When finished with the course work, the graduates can write lesson plans and are informed about school district standards, said Phyllis Gudoski, the program's coordinator.
Many educators and state Sen. Richard Alarcon (D-Sylmar) praised the future teachers for the sacrifices they made.
"You chose at your own risk and cost to be a teacher," said Alarcon, who spoke at his alma mater, John H. Francis High School in Sun Valley, where the ceremony was held. "You are pushing ahead with your career. Each one of you holds our future in your hands."
Last year, 60 people graduated from the program. Of those, 44 teachers were hired by the Los Angeles Unified School District, Gudoski said.
"We are honored that we are the next generation of teachers," said Perla Carbajal, who graduated from the program's elementary school division. "It's not surprising we wanted to enter a profession and emulate the way our teachers have inspired us."
Teaching has been a lifelong dream for many of the graduates. They credit the program and the people who support it as the reason they will be in the classroom come this fall.
"It's confirming a commitment that this is what I want to do," said Naomi Burton. "I'm going to spend my life learning how to teach children. We will change the future one kid at a time."