By February 6, 2019 Read More →

Opinion: It’s about time for a “Home Grown” teacher shortage solution

By Dr. Tracy Pellett

President of Glenville State College

 

The teacher shortage in West Virginia has reached the “crisis” stage.  There are now more than 1,000 teacher vacancies across the state. The sad fact is that many West Virginia students will not receive the quality education they deserve by a highly qualified teacher, particularly in the subjects of Math, Science, and Special Education. Many vacancies are filled using short- and long-term substitutes, educators with permits but no degree in education, and retired teachers. This simply is not sustainable nor a recipe for quality educational results.

Dr. Tracy Pellett

 

While the state legislature and governor should be applauded for proposing enhanced pay of public school teachers, particularly for shortage areas, there is as great a need to expand the pipeline at the career selection point before and upon entry to professional teacher education programs at the college level.

 

Glenville State College (GSC) is taking a focused and intentional lead across the central part of the state by encouraging enrollment in teacher education programs, particularly in identified shortage areas.  One way GSC will do this is through a coordinated college and public school (K-16) partnership with 15 school districts, including Gilmer, Braxton, Calhoun, Doddridge, Fayette, Kanawha, Lewis, Nicholas, Pleasants, Pocahontas, Roane, Webster, Wood, Wirt, and Upshur Counties.

 

The purpose of the Home Grown partnership is to focus on teacher candidate identification, financial and scholarship support for candidates to attend college, and practical experiences and mentoring during preparation and into the start of full-time teaching.

 

Glenville State College has a long and proud history of training teachers that dates back to 1872. It is a nationally accredited institution, and with its updated facilities, dedicated faculty, and a desire to meet the state’s need for qualified teachers, it is poised to take its rightful position as the premier teacher education program in the region. GSC is already a leader for teacher development and retention and a natural partner to assist school districts in a “Home Grown” approach to fill unfilled vacancies across the central and entire state of West Virginia.

 

Glenville State College is working with partner districts to identify and recruit high school students interested in teaching, particularly those interested in subject areas most in demand. The same strategies used to recruit 5-star athletes are being employed, including calls, visits, and significant scholarship support from a variety of institutional, private, and federal sources that can include up to the entire cost of tuition for those eligible.

 

Glenville State College is increasing progression, retention, and graduation of enrolled teacher candidates through targeted retention success strategies.  These strategies include peer and professional mentoring, advising, intensive tutoring, and real-world teaching experiences in home counties. Specific attention and support is beginning to be provided to support performance on the myriad of standardized exams and tests needed for licensure.

Glenville State College intends to work with partner districts to improve new teacher retention through a coordinated college and district mentoring program.  Assuring a supportive mentoring network will assist in retaining all newly hired teachers beyond the first three years of teaching.

 

Focused and targeted recruitment, support, and mentoring has the potential to increase the number of competent and highly qualified teachers in the West Virginia workforce. Targeted programs like these are investments in our state’s future. Glenville is working with partner districts to seek specific legislative funding to solve the teacher pipeline problem and support this program fully to expand it to more districts to ensure its success.  Although some program elements (recruitment, small scholarships, student support) can occur irrespective of legislative funding, the need to expand this program’s impact to other districts and support the mentoring of new graduates can’t be overstated based on the current employment needs and vacancies in all West Virginia school districts.

 

Obviously, the success of this Home Grown program will be dependent on the number of students enrolled and ultimately graduating in these shortage areas.  Our state is depending on institutions like Glenville State College to assist in solving the teacher shortage problem.  No one should be surprised that the Pioneers of Glenville State are willing to take a lead!

 

Dr. Tracy Pellett is the President of Glenville State College

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