Educators and policymakers were in Charleston Tuesday for the 2022 West Virginia Education Summit.
The theme of the conference was Pathways to the Future: Strategies to Grow Your Own, and speakers focused on how today’s education will prepare students for tomorrow’s jobs.
In her opening statements, President and CEO of The Education Alliance Dr. Amelia Courts acknowledged the role of education in every single industry.
“Teaching is the profession on which all other professions depend,” she said, quoting Stanford professor Linda Darling-Hammond.
Keynote speaker and director of Educational Development for the State Department of Education Dr. Carla Warren highlighted how the state’s new Grow Your Own program is preparing the next generation of teachers.
“What this pathway does is allows a high school student as a junior or senior to complete 24 to 30 hours of college credit cost free,” Warren said. “So they come out of high school with one year towards a bachelor’s degree in education.”
West Virginia has a shortage of 1,200 teachers, up 200 since fall of 2021. The Grow Your Own program recently won federal registered apprentice status for “K-12 teachers,” allowing student teachers to be paid while they train to be educators.
Warren was joined by David Donaldson, managing partner for the National Center for Grow Your Own program. He said the Grow Your Own program is dedicated to removing financial barriers not only for educators in training, but also for existing educators to receive continuing education.
“Our students in West Virginia, they want to stay here if the opportunities are available,” Warren said.