Charleston, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) welcomed students of the TeachWV Grow Your Own Pathway to Teaching inaugural class along with program partners to Charleston today to celebrate the program’s success. Students in attendance were among the more than 250 high schoolers enrolled in the program during the pilot year, and partners attended to formally announce their contributions and supports. The Grow Your Own Pathway removes barriers of cost and time and provides increased supports for high school students to enter the teaching profession.
The WVDE implemented the Grow Your Own pilot this school year with 37 counties participating. The inaugural class has an average 3.6 grade point average (GPA) and represents 36 high schools. As part of the initiative, these students take dual credit courses (at no cost to them) and receive structured supports to prepare them for their educator preparation programs in college. This has led to a cost savings of $90,000 for students and their families this academic year.
“The launch of this program has not only been successful, but also a reflection of the progress we experience when we work toward a unified goal,” said State Superintendent of Schools David L. Roach. “We look forward to all counties getting onboard with this program because it is providing a real solution to our teacher recruitment challenges.”
“The Grow Your Own Pathway program has helped solidify my decision to become a teacher,” said Jacob Hall, a senior from the McDowell County Career and Technical Center. “I thought that I might want to become an educator before this, but now I feel confident and prepared to finish the journey.”
Last year, the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) approved the WVDE as a Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP) for the K-12 Teaching Occupation. This enables counties to sustain efforts for students to pursue a teaching career and to pay those students a wage to do so. There are currently eight counties piloting the RAP, and additional districts will be added at the conclusion of the pilot.
Gov. Jim Justice, the West Virginia Department of Commerce and Workforce West Virginia are providing $400,000 to support the state’s RAP which also ensures funds are available to support the paraprofessional pipeline to teacher licensure. Additionally, the Benedum Foundation’s $240,000 grant will cover the cost of all dual credit courses for high school students enrolled in the Grow Your Own Pathway.
The WVDE is also partnering with Study.com and Passage Preparation to help students pass their Praxis exams – the tests required for licensure. Students have access to preparation materials at no cost to them.
“This program is absolutely knocking it out of the park,” said Gov. Justice. “We’re making it easier and more affordable for our students to become educators. The Grow Your Own program is a true investment in the future of teachers and West Virginia. By breaking down barriers and supporting students, these future teachers will undoubtedly inspire and shape the minds of the next generation. What a beautiful thing.”
“This program is an important step forward in effectively addressing teacher recruitment, workforce development and economic progress while also keeping our young, bright talent home,” said Secretary of Commerce James Bailey. “Innovative approaches such as this provide a spark in one sector that will resonate across our state’s economy.”
“The Benedum Foundation is proud to continue its support of high-quality education initiatives in West Virginia,” said Melanie Claxton, Senior Program Officer for the Claude W. Worthington Foundation. “The partnerships brought together to support the Grow Your Own Teaching Pathway represent best practices for leveraging public, non-profit, state and federal resources. Removing barriers for high school students to enter the profession will have an impact to be felt for years to come.”
Funding and supports will assist in building capacity in the program for the high school students enrolled as well as up to 181 paraprofessionals who may be eligible to complete undergraduate coursework and pursue teaching certification. Additionally, the West Virginia Division of Rehabilitation Services is partnering with the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind to support students with disabilities interested in pursuing careers in education.
For more information on the initiative, visit TeachWV.com.
For media inquiries, contact Christy Day, West Virginia Department of Education Office of Communications, at 304-558-2699 or Christy.Day@k12.wv.us.