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Virginia Department of Education Announces $1.52 Million in Grow Your Own Grants

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) awarded its second round of Grow Your Own Grants totaling $1.52 million to 24 school divisions to assist in creating registered teacher apprenticeship programs to help recruit and train well-prepared future teachers within their communities.  A focused approach to helping school divisions deal with teacher recruitment challenges, Grow Your Own programs help future teachers work towards their bachelor’s degrees and fulfill all licensure requirements so that upon completion of the program participants will be ready to accept a full-time teaching position in their communities. 

The VDOE has partnered with the National Center for Grow Your Own to become a national leader in helping develop effective registered apprenticeship programs to assist school divisions in recruiting teacher candidates from their local communities. Under this model, aspiring Virginia teacher candidates can include paraprofessionals and other staff already working in the schools, dual-enrolled graduating high school seniors, or career switchers with an interest in classroom teaching. Twenty-eight Virginia school divisions have launched Grow Your Own registered teacher apprenticeship programs during the 2023-2024 school year.  

“I am proud to continue our commitment to helping school divisions find ways to put exceptional people from their own communities in their local classrooms,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Lisa Coons. “Teacher recruitment is a major issue for school divisions, and we recognize that new approaches are needed to help build a strong talent pipeline for our schools.  Working with the National Center for Grow Your Own, we are creating innovative ways to help increase teacher supply and make becoming a classroom teacher more affordable for students and dedicated professionals who want to serve in our schools.” 

“Looking ahead, we envision a future where the Grow Your Own Registered Teacher Apprenticeship program becomes an exemplary model for others to follow. We aim to address teacher shortages and build a sustainable pipeline of passionate, talented, and knowledgeable educators ready to make a difference in the lives of all our students,” said Prince William County Public Schools Superintendent LaTanya D. McDade, Ed.D. 

“Throughout our region, we have tremendous educators and support staff.   Unfortunately, the cost of higher education has been a barrier for many of our paraprofessionals to complete their bachelor’s degree and obtain teacher licensure.  The Grow Your Own grant award will remove the barrier of higher education costs for many paraprofessionals throughout our region. In partnership with Emory & Henry College, forty paraprofessionals from across Southwest Virginia will receive the final two years needed to obtain their bachelor’s degree while continuing to work in our schools and completing coursework in the evenings,” said Smyth County Public Schools Superintendent Dennis Carter, Ed.D.   

The awards were issued to individual school divisions and consortiums of school divisions that have partnered with an educator preparation partner to train future teachers locally.  

Read the full release on the VDOE website. 

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