The West Virginia Public Education Collaborative, in partnership with West Virginia University and the West Virginia Department of Education, is working to make West Virginia a destination for new teachers.
Amid a critical teacher shortage, a team of education experts from the three organizations is exploring a new approach to teacher recruitment and retention. Known as Teachers Ascend into West Virginia, this innovative program was inspired by elements of the popular Ascend West Virginia remote worker initiative and Teach for America.
The relocation program aims to attract high-quality educators to the Mountain State by touting a work-life balance that instills community, purpose and outdoor adventure with a passion for teaching and learning.
“Teachers Ascend into West Virginia will not just fill open teacher positions,” WVU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Maryanne Reed said. “More importantly, it will help recruit passionate, forward-thinking individuals to educate our students in new and exciting ways that prepare them for jobs of the future.”
Over the next few months, a pilot program will be designed based on targeted research, focus groups and nationwide consultations. Data collection will speak to teachers’ professional interests, ideal work environment and quality of life aspirations.
“We hope to position West Virginia as a competitive place to live and teach by offering rewarding experiences in our schools and communities,” said Donna Hoylman Peduto, executive director of the WVPEC, who will oversee the program. “To create a sense of place and belonging, leadership opportunities, professional development, community engagement and partnerships with local businesses and community leaders, will be woven throughout the program.
State Superintendent of Schools David Roach said he hopes the program will serve as a catalyst to build a sustainable teacher pipeline centered on the needs of educators.
“We continue to explore unique and innovative ways to tell our story while highlighting the need for teachers in our state,” Roach said. “Our goal remains to prepare students for the opportunities of the emerging economy through highly effective educators who love teaching.”
Teachers Ascend into West Virginia is one of eight projects that has been awarded $70,000 to the WVPEC through Remake Learning’s Moonshot Grants. Funding is provided by the Grable Foundation and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation. This gift will be administered through the WVU Foundation, the nonprofit organization that receives and oversees private donations on behalf of the University.