OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Brianna Mather is a first-year, second-grade teacher at Mockingbird Elementary School.
"I have always wanted to be a teacher and I also just want to make a difference, even if it's in one kid's life," Mather said.
She's also in the CADRE project, working towards her master's degree, with financial help from her school district.
"It's definitely a lot emotionally harder than I was expecting, but it's definitely getting better and it's making it worth it because it is making me a better teacher," Mather said.
In addition to being full-time teachers, they typically come to the UNO campus about twice a month and — on top of that — they do online coursework.
"They are earning their degree in 14 months, which gives them a bump in pay immediately, sets them off on the right foot; they've got strategies, a master's degree educational backing to support that," said Chris Wilcoxen, director of the CADRE Project.
Over the last 28 years, 95% of teachers in the program stuck with education as a career.
Each teacher is partnered with an experienced mentor in their district and, in their courses at UNO, they are learning skills they can use in their classrooms immediately.
"Being able to to look at data from, like students — like for a test or something like that — and being able to process really quickly: like okay, 'Where have they gone wrong? What content didn't they understand?'" said Andrea Lopez, a seventh-grade math teacher at Ralston Middle School.
Lopez is a recent CADRE graduate.
"Some days it would be like, 'What am I doing wrong? What can I do better?' You know, bouncing ideas off of somebody," Lopez said.
And having the support of their CADRE classmates makes all the difference.
"It's wonderful in class to have these people that we have built the trust around so that we are comfortable in sharing things that we need help with," Mather said.
An investment from the district, invests in the future.
"I realized that this was what I am meant to do, this is where I belong, this is a school district I want to stay at," Lopez said.
Nine school districts across Nebraska and Iowa are involved and they do all the hiring and selection.
UNO requires that you have a minimum GPA of a 3.0 and a teaching certification. For more information on the program or other application requirements and dates for the CADRE Project visit cehhs.unomaha.edu/cadre