CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia is one of only a few states in the nation to designate a teacher preparation pathway as a Registered Apprenticeship. The West Virginia Board of Education (WVBE) and West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) hosted the West Virginia Department of Commerce along with the West Virginia office of the U.S. Department of Labor and Higher Education Policy Commission at the May 11, 2022, WVBE meeting to announce the Department of Education’s Grow Your Own Pathway to Teaching Initiative as a Registered Apprenticeship with the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL).
The apprenticeship designation elevates the WVDE’s initiative with wage-earning field experiences beginning the junior year of high school and continuing through the student’s final year of college. Similar to career technical education apprenticeships, the Grow Your Own Pathway to Teaching opens doors to rich clinical experiences and compensation that can help reduce the student’s financial burden.
West Virginia joins the ranks of other states experiencing a severe teacher shortage. State Superintendent of Schools W. Clayton Burch says a current shortage of 1,200 certified educators in public schools will increase over the next several years. The WVDE has worked aggressively to create innovations and strategies that will not only expand the pipeline of teachers through traditional channels, but to also inspire the next generation of professionals to enter the classroom. The Pathway to Teaching Initiative allows high school students to complete college-level course work and graduate with a year of college already completed. Additionally, students may finish high school with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Teacher Aide certification.
“This partnership reflects the support behind our efforts to address the teacher shortage in West Virginia because this is not just an education issue, it affects all aspects of our state,” said Superintendent Burch. “The Department has built this scalable program to strengthen our teacher preparation efforts in real-time because we don’t have the luxury of time to get more highly qualified teachers into the classroom.”
“This program is another step in the right direction to not only support young people pursuing teaching, but to also equip them with mentorships, professional development, classroom management skills and financial support,” said WVBE President Miller Hall. “This is the type of vision-oriented approach we must take to inspire our new teachers and prepare them for a sustained and rewarding classroom career.”
“This effort aligns the needs of the community, our educational system, and our available workforce to address and support progress in our great state,” said West Virginia Department of Commerce Secretary Ed Gaunch. “Apprenticeships work and this program supports the professional development of our future teachers in a very progressive, intentional manner.”
“Registered Apprenticeship is a quality way of growing employees through formalized on-the-job learning combined with related classroom training,” said Jim Foti, Regional Director for the USDOL Philadelphia Region’s Office of Apprenticeship. “This ensures the employer that the employee has received well-rounded training, has met national qualifications and is prepared for the demands of the workforce.”
High school students can begin the Pathway to Teaching Initiative this fall in 27 counties piloting the initiative. For more information visit the WVDE Grow Your Own website.
For media inquiries, contact Christy Day, West Virginia Department of Education Office of Communications, at 304-558-2699 or Christy.Day@k12.wv.us.