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VCU School of Education Earns $1.6M in Federal Funding to Address Teacher Shortage

Sen. Tim Kaine took part in a visit in February to the Franklin Military Academy classroom taught by Christal Corey, a graduate of VCU’s RTR teacher residency program and Richmond Public Schools’ Teacher of the Year for 2023. (Photo contributed by Andrew Daire)

This article was originally published by Virginia Commonwealth University News.

U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine of Virginia have announced $1,599,645 in federal funding through the Augustus F. Hawkins Centers of Excellence Program to address teacher shortages by supporting the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Education’s RTR teacher residency program.

The funding will help recruit and support more teacher candidates from diverse backgrounds and provide them with the skills to teach in high-need schools, including those in Richmond Public Schools. The VCU School of Education’s RTR program is an undergraduate and graduate teacher residency program.

“We are honored to receive the Augustus F. Hawkins Centers of Excellence grant, where we will recruit, prepare, support and retain educators from diverse backgrounds in hard-to-staff schools,” said Kim McKnight, Ph.D., executive director of RTR and director of VCU School of Education’s Center for Teacher Leadership. “Our work will provide professional learning in culturally and linguistically responsive teaching to ensure all students feel seen, heard and valued.

“Funding from this grant will allow us to support bilingual and multilingual teachers and learners across the commonwealth of Virginia. Every student deserves a great education, and we are thrilled to use these funds to accomplish this goal.”

Awarded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Hawkins Program, the funding will help increase the number of well-prepared teachers, including teachers of color, by supporting centers of excellence at Minority Serving Institutions. In 2022, VCU achieved the department’s MSI eligibility and qualified for its Strengthening Institutions Program for having met rigorous standards in the service of minority students, low-income students and student success.

RTR teacher-residents learn alongside top district teachers for a year while earning an undergraduate or graduate degree from VCU. RTR graduates receive one-on-one training with a content-specific career coach throughout the first two years of their teaching careers.

Founded as a partnership with Richmond Public Schools in 2011, RTR now serves school districts across Virginia, including in Arlington, Brunswick, Chesterfield, Dinwiddie, Essex, Fairfax, Henrico, Hopewell, Petersburg, Prince George, Prince William, Richmond, Roanoke, Southampton, Stafford and Surry.

With funding from the new federal grant, RTR will help develop training through the VCU School of Education’s Virginia Adult Learning Resource Center, which strengthens adult education and literacy through professional development, resources and collaborative projects. VALRC is expanding its support of teacher recruitment by investing resources and time to support bilingual and multilingual teacher preparation.

In addition, the funding will help expand the School of Education’s Multilingual Ambassador Program to prepare teachers to support bilingual and multilingual students and adults, and to provide a pathway for bilingual and multilingual adults to become teachers.

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