PORTLAND, Maine — Several students at the Adult Education Center in Portland have one thing in common. They once worked as teachers, in other countries.

"I think some of our methods here in the U.S. may be different from what many of the teachers in other countries have used for methods," said Sally Sutton, the Education Academy Program Coordinator. 

It's part of Portland's new Education Academy a program designed to help diversify the workforce.

"I think it's a great group of students," Sutton said. "And I just I'm very pleased with how they're doing."

Sutton has been helping close to a dozen new Mainers gain certification for local teaching jobs. Jobs, that are in high demand.

"Our immigrant population is ideally suited," said Xavier Botana, Portland Superintendent. "We have shortages in things like world languages, in mathematics, definitely in special education those are areas where we always struggle to find people and that is consistent with the state overall."

Botana says welcoming immigrants is about more than filling a teaching gap.

For Portland Public Schools, students of color make up 40% of total enrollment. 97% of the faculty is white.

"This is our effort to figure out how to leverage that potential that they bring and have that be something that helps us fill our classrooms with the types of teachers our students will benefit from," Botana said.

"As students are sitting there in the classroom, they will see a face that looks like theirs," Sutton said. "They will have someone who has gone through some of the experiences they have gone through and hopefully someone they can identify with."

Classes started in January.

Education Academy is just one part of the New Mainers Resource Center at Portland Adult Education, which over the last year, has helped more than 2,000 people.