CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) is working to recruit teachers into the state’s public school system.
To address teacher certification concerns and a decline in members of the workforce wishing to get into education, the WVDE is currently enacting measures to influence teachers to stay in West Virginia and for new teachers to join the profession. Director of Educator Development and Support Dr. Carla Warren says the approach is multi-faceted and moves beyond an increase in pay and benefits.
“As educational leaders we have to find ways to bring and attract more talent into the profession,” said Warren. “Or we’re going to continue to see a regression as a society and we’re going to see an impact on our economy,” she said.
According to Warren, the WVDE is hoping to expand on a new pilot program that works to recruit West Virgina students into becoming full-time educators. Called the Grow Your Own West Virginia Pathway to Teaching Program, the goal is to have high school students work towards college credits in education which they can later use to work in county school systems leading to full-time employment. Currently in 31 counties across the state with 250 students participating, Warren hopes that the program can expand to the rest of the state so less barriers are in place for West Virginia students to become educators.
“We want to create a world where students can pursue a career in teaching and get paid to do so through the Grow Your Own model, and the West Virginia Apprenticeship Model,” said Warren.
An evaluation of the program is expected to take place in 2023.
Also heading into 2023, the WVDE is hoping to address ceritfications for teachers currently being employed in Mountain State public schools. Avenues are being explored to help expand opportunities for teachers to recieve board certifications so a teacher who may not completely qualify for a postion, can be trained properly.
“We do have licensed teachers in the classroom, so really, our challenge is how do we support those teachers to become fully licensed in the content area that they’ve been assigned to teach,” Warren said on how to approach certification expansion for teachers.
Even with the measures enacted or are working to get enacted, Warren says that it’s still going to be a challenge as demand to become teachers decreases across the country and responsibilities increase. In order to potentially address job shortages, Warren says there needs to be continued collaboration with the various sectors in the West Virginia workforce. Not only so West Virginians can be educated, but so a workforce can continue to expand outside of education.
“Shortages are a complex problem and it requires complex solutions, it requires everybody getting on board to support,” Warren said.