ROANOKE, Va. – Schools across the country are struggling to close the teacher shortage gap.
Last year, there were at least 2,500 unfilled teaching positions statewide, according to the Virginia Department of Education’s staffing and vacancy report.
“Because of everything that has been happening with the pandemic, sometimes teachers aren’t respected, at that point a lot of teachers are leaving or people are not coming into the teaching profession,” said Lorraine Lange, Hollins director of the Master of Arts in Teaching, Master of Arts in Teaching and Learning, and Master of Arts in Liberal Studies programs.
To help close the gap, Hollins University is offering local school divisions the opportunity to help teachers get the education they need.
According to Hollins University, the initiative will help teachers fulfill the requirements for a full teaching license.
Roanoke City Public Schools recently joined the Hollins Education Program, the release said.
“Hollins has been an invaluable partner to RCPS, tailoring instruction to our teachers’ needs so they, in turn, have the skills and knowledge to meet the needs of our students,” said RCPS Superintendent Verletta White. “Coursework is completed in a cohort with other RCPS teachers, which allows them to build a community of support while learning and on the job. This is invaluable as we work to attract and retain highly qualified educators in our school division.”
White said the initiative is grant-funded to ensure there are no economic barriers to receiving teacher certification.
“They’ve gotten a grant from Virginia, and they are actually paying for some of their teachers to get their certification,” Lange explained.
The release said that Hollins will also work with North Cross School to provide teachers with the ability to earn a graduate degree.
“Their teachers are getting their master’s with the support of the administration so that they will stay. It’s being used as a perk for retaining teachers and helping the teachers be better teachers.”
Lord Botetourt High School dealt with a teacher shortage for their dual enrollment math courses in 2021, according to the release. As a result, Hollins began offering classes to LBHS teachers so that they could eventually qualify to teach dual enrollment courses.
“We are proud to help teachers,” Lange said. “But the real winners are the students.”