HAMDEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A new generation of teachers is ready to enter the workforce.

The Connecticut Teacher Residency Program held celebrated the educators’ graduation on Thursday in Hamden.

The program is an alternative route to teacher certification that includes hands-on training. It is focused on attracting, certifying and retaining teachers of color.

The group said the efforts are crucial.

“When [students] have a teacher a color, a teacher that looks like them, the difference that makes,” said Marlene Megos, the director of the residency program.

It helps them know that they can do anything, something the teachers have learned themselves.

“This wasn’t easy,” said Troy Bond, a graduate. “It was pushing a boulder uphill, but it was worth it.”

The teachers are now eligible for full-time teaching positions in about 30 partnering districts.