Liz McCormick Published

New W.Va. Teacher Preparation Pathway Gets Federal Designation

Student writes at desk in high school

West Virginia is experiencing a shortage of 1,200 teachers – that’s up by 200 from last fall. State education officials are hopeful the state’s new Grow Your Own Pathway to Teaching program will bring that number down – and a new designation may help.

At the May meeting of the West Virginia Board of Education, the state Department of Education announced that Grow Your Own is now a federally recognized apprenticeship, thanks to a partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor.

“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 West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Clayton 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.”

West Virginia is one of only a few states in the nation to designate a teacher preparation pathway as a registered apprenticeship, according to the West Virginia Department of Education.

Grow Your Own is a new initiative by the state Department of Education and the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission. It will officially launch this fall and aims to inspire more high school students in the state to choose teaching as a career and stay in West Virginia.

The new federal designation elevates the initiative with wage-earning field experiences that will start during a student’s junior year of high school and continue all the way through a student’s final year of college.

High school students will complete college-level courses and graduate with a year of college already completed.

Additionally, thanks to the federal partnership, students may finish high school with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Teacher Aide certification.

Twenty-seven counties are piloting the project this fall.