West Virginia Department of Education launches program to address teacher shortage


CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) — As students march from class to class to graduate from high school, some may be thinking about the next step of going to college.

And while a nationwide teacher shortage continues to plague school districts, Dr. Carla Warren of the West Virginia Department of Education says they are making efforts to help students considering entering the teaching profession – get a head start with the pilot of a Grow Your Own (GYO) teacher preparation program.

“It’s to give them the opportunity to do some experiential learning and figure out if this is really the path that I [the student] want to take,” Warren said.

This GYO program allows high school students to start earning college credit and even gain classroom experience, all before they graduate from high school.

“If we can get kids into careers faster in a way that fully prepares them and is ready to go and we’re able to fill the gaps in unemployment, there’s nothing wrong with the idea. We should constantly be trying to think of ways to streamline these approaches to having quality employees,” said Robert Keaton, director of vocational technical education for Fayette County Schools.

High school students will take four courses, combined with classroom experience, and the goal is for students to enter college with a minimum of 22 credit hours.

“They were finishing their first year of college while still in high school, then they were finishing their second and third year in the college setting, then their fourth year, they were going back to a school as a homeroom teacher with a high standard. of support,” Warren said.

Warren says that during this fourth year of college – while a student assumes the role of student teacher where they will be seen as the homeroom or classroom teacher with a high level of support, they will have the opportunity to make a salary.

“It wouldn’t be 100% of a beginning teacher’s salary, but it would be a decent salary they could earn that fourth year,” Warren said.

Warren says the GYO program is expected to begin in the fall of 2022.

At this time, it is unclear if this will be a free program for students. Warren says the West Virginia Department of Education is working to secure funding opportunities to fully pay for the program, so students don’t have to worry about the cost.

According to a statement from the West Virginia Department of Education, the following counties participate in this program:

Berkeley, Lewis, Putnam, Braxton, Marion, Summers, Cabell, McDowell, Taylor, Calhoun, Mingo, Upshur, Fayette, Monroe, Wayne, Greenbrier, Nicholas, Jefferson, Ohio, Kanawha and Pocahontas.

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