CHARLESTON, W.Va. – State Superintendent of Schools W. Clayton Burch led a delegation to several Kanawha County Schools to launch the Pathways to Teaching Initiative. As part of the TeachWV Grow Your Own Program, the initiative allows high school students to pursue a teaching degree through pathways counties develop with their higher education partners. Superintendent Burch was joined by West Virginia Teacher of the Year Brian Casto to share insights and experiences about the teaching profession. This was the first of several county visits to promote the new initiative.
West Virginia is among many states facing a teacher shortage. The Pathways to Teaching Initiative allows students to pursue a teaching degree while still in high school. Participating counties work with higher education institution partners to develop pathways that include college-level courses and unique practical classroom experiences under the direction of veteran teachers. By the time they graduate high school, students can earn up to 30 college credits and complete a year of college at significantly reduced costs. This gives them an advanced position in college to finish course requirements, begin their residency and earn their bachelor’s degree within three years.
“The Pathway to Teaching Initiative is an exciting opportunity for our counties and our students because it creates a roadmap to address a critical issue in our state,” said Superintendent Burch. “Our goal is to bring talent back to the county that is equipped with the pedagogy and residency experience this initiative offers. As a result, we believe our counties will not only be able to attract teachers but also retain them at higher rates.”
“Kanawha County is pleased to be a part of the Grow Your Own Pathway to Teaching pilot project,” said Kanawha County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Tom Williams. “We know there are many students interested in pursuing the teaching profession, and this will be an excellent inroad for them. Collaboratively, we are making strides to prepare our next generation of teachers and keep them home as they return to teach in Kanawha County.”
“As the state’s current Teacher of the Year, I find no better way to use this platform than to encourage students to pursue teaching as a career,” said Brian Casto. “The impact you have on young people and the investment you make in their lives is not only rewarding but also extremely humbling.”
Twenty-eight (28) counties are participating in the pilot, which is one of several TeachWV initiatives. The West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) recently retooled the website, teachwv.com, to offer detailed information about alternative pathways to teaching, as well as information about teacher preparation programs and testimonials from college students and classroom teachers.
Students in participating counties will begin the program next school year. Visits will continue in the coming weeks with stops in 12 counties. To learn more, visit the Grow Your Own Pathway to Teaching Initiative website.