LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The University of Arkansas at Little Rock and the North Pulaski School District are launching a new teacher residency program.

The program is designed to prepare teacher candidates to be ready for their classroom and the school year. Teachers will spend a year working with experienced teacher mentors in the Jacksonville North Pulaski School District.

The residency program is supported by a grant from Forward Arkansas, which is designed to aid UA Little Rock in increasing the number and diversity of potential teachers entering the field.

Officials said that the first five teacher candidates will sign pledges to signify their commitment to teach in Arkansas.

School officials gathered at Jacksonville Middle School to make the announcement Thursday morning. Speakers included JNPSD Superintendent Dr. Jeremy Owoh, UA Little Rock Chancellor Christina Drale and Dr. Sarah Beth Estes, dean of the College of Humanities, Arts, Social Sciences, and Education at UA Little Rock.