In January, the University of Lynchburg announced a recommitment to its “Grow Your Own Teachers” program, a partnership with Central Virginia Community College and Lynchburg City Schools. This month, several county school divisions also reaffirmed their support of the joint program. Among them are Amherst, Appomattox, Bedford, and Campbell counties.
“The Grow Your Own Teachers Program is a great example of how K-12 and higher education can work together to meet the needs of our community. We’re excited to partner with CVCC and the University of Lynchburg to ‘grow’ the future of education in Central Virginia,” said Appomattox County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Annette Bennett.
Amherst County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Robert Arnold put the issue more bluntly, pointing out the local, statewide, and national teacher shortage the program can help address.
“[We’re] excited about this partnership opportunity with University of Lynchburg and Central Virginia Community College,” he said. “Schools in Central Virginia, the state of Virginia, and the U.S. are facing a teacher shortage crisis. Therefore, it is critical to find creative ways to meet those challenges, and the Grow Your Own Teachers program allows us to identify prospective teacher candidates before they even leave high school.”
Indeed, the program aims to attract quality students into teaching while elevating the teaching profession. It really is an ideal partnership for public schools, says Campbell County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Robert Johnson.
“[We have] always been committed to recruiting, supporting and maintaining the highest quality teachers for our students,” Johnson said. “Providing our high school students with the opportunity to access the Grow Your Own Teachers program and pursue their career goals through our strong partnership with the University of Lynchburg is good for our students, communities, and profession. As a division, we are dedicated and excited to continue this important work.”
To participate in the program, students must apply, and be admitted, to both CVCC and the University of Lynchburg. Students will be dually enrolled and have an advisor at both institutions.
Once enrolled at CVCC, students follow clear guidelines:
- Students will follow what is called a Guided Pathway of courses designed to meet Virginia licensure regulations. The Guided Pathway will also help students complete their degree in four years. CVCC faculty and staff have identified courses within their curriculum, and Virginia state teaching competencies have been included in those courses.
- During their four semesters at CVCC, dually enrolled students will take selected required education courses at the University of Lynchburg.
- Students must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 to remain in the program and must take and pass all assessments required by the Virginia Department of Education for licensure.
Upon graduation from CVCC, students will continue their education at the University of Lynchburg, where they will receive a significant financial package.
- Students seeking licensure in a secondary STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) field will be eligible to apply for additional assistance through a $1.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation Robert Noyce Scholarship Program.
- Students will complete their coursework, including field experiences and student teaching, at the University of Lynchburg.
- Most field experiences and all student teaching will occur in the county schools under the supervision of cooperating teachers approved by the school division and the University.
For Dr. Julie Rogers, interim superintendent for Bedford County Public Schools, that hands-on connection is particularly compelling. She sees it as a crucial investment not just in their careers, but the community as a whole.
“[We’re] pleased to partner with the University of Lynchburg to support our students by placing them in internships and student teaching experiences,” Rogers said. “We want to invest in our students who will commit to staying in the community and making a lifetime career in teaching.”
To learn more about the Grow Your Own Teachers program and to apply, click here.