The University of Mary Washington has signed an agreement with Germanna Community College and Stafford County Public Schools to make it easier for local students to become educators and help ease the state’s teacher shortage.
Streamlining the path from high school to college, the memorandum of understanding, signed last month by UMW President Troy Paino and Germanna President Janet Gullickson, was finalized last week with the signature of Stafford County Schools Superintendent Scott Kizner.
The agreement creates dual enrollment and workforce programs to pave the way for future educators, offering pathways in education and early childhood education to participants in Stafford Schools’ Teachers for Tomorrow (TfT) initiative. The state-recognized high school curriculum has been lauded as a successful “grow your own” teacher program. UMW holds a similar partnership with Spotsylvania County Public Schools, said UMW College of Education (COE) Dean Pete Kelly.
“As a COE at a public university, we have a responsibility to help address the chronic teacher shortage in our area schools and in Virginia,” Kelly said. “We worked together to align coursework and curriculum to ensure students have the learning experiences they need to be successful in the COE at UMW, and in their work as teachers after graduation. We also worked to make sure students get credit for the courses they take.”
Virtual meetings this past spring brought administrators and teachers from TfT programs in eight school divisions together with UMW and Germanna faculty. The group focused on curriculum collaborations and preliminary planning for a summer institute for TfT teachers and high school students to be held in 2021.
“In spite of upheaval throughout all education across the country, Stafford County Public Schools, the University of Mary Washington and Germanna continue as strong partners to benefit the teaching profession and our communities,” Gullickson said. “The strength of this partnership will weather the challenges of our times.”
Through the agreement, students who hope to become teachers can begin solidifying career preparations while in high school with dual enrollment courses that can be applied toward a Germanna degree and later transferred to UMW, or directly applied at UMW. The program also gives high-schoolers the opportunity to collect valuable interactions, such as observing classrooms and obtaining teaching experience, before they reach college.
The recent agreement is just one part of UMW’s Pipeline to Promise initiative, aimed at easing future teachers’ transition from high school to higher education, and beyond, through potential partnerships with graduate programs at schools such as George Mason University. Efforts to develop similar pathways with other area high schools is ongoing, Kelly said.
“We continue to collaborate with an increasing number of school divisions,” he said. “Through this regional collaboration, the COE is helping to address the significant teacher shortage.”