March 1, 2006
Director of Communications
Public Information Officer
Innovative Conference and Job Fair Set for March 18 in Richmond
Virginia’s aggressive effort to recruit highly qualified teachers continues with the third Great Virginia Teach-in, which is scheduled for March 18 at the Greater Richmond Convention Center in Richmond. The teach-in will bring together more than 150 exhibitors and employers, including school divisions, teacher preparation programs, and state-approved “career-switcher” programs to prepare qualified professionals for second careers as classroom teachers.
“The Great Virginia Teach-In showcases the benefits of teaching in Virginia and the quality of life enjoyed by our citizens,” said Acting Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia Wright. “The teach-in also provides access to hundreds of qualified candidates that many of our smaller school divisions might otherwise never see.”
“The Great Virginia Teach-In is an opportunity for someone from out of state to see quite a few school districts and representatives at one place and not have to worry about constantly flying or driving back and forth,” said Bradley George, a teacher from Michigan who attended the 2005 Great Virginia Teach-In and now teaches earth science at Dominion High School in Loudoun County.
Virginia is targeting advertising and outreach for the 2006 Great Virginia Teach-In to 23 states based on geographic proximity and recent employment trends. These states include Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
“Attending the Great Virginia Teach-In is a great way to learn about what the commonwealth has to offer,” said Thomas Elliott, assistant superintendent for teacher education, licensure, and professional practice. “The teach-in puts Virginia on the radar screens of experienced teachers and young men and women who are about to graduate from teacher preparation programs in states where there is a teacher surplus.”
Online registration and information regarding lodging convenient to the Greater Richmond Convention Center are available on the Virginia Department of Education website (www.doe.virginia.gov). Visitors should look for the Great Virginia Teach-In link under “announcements” in the right-hand column of the department’s home page, or go directly to the Great Virginia Teach-In page at this address: www.doe.virginia.gov/VDOE/VA_Teach_In.
Teachers will have opportunities during the teach-in to submit resumes and interview with representatives of most of Virginia’s 132 school divisions. They also will attend informational sessions and workshops on Virginia’s academic standards and licensure requirements, and the commonwealth’s initiatives to support new and beginning teachers. In addition, workshops for graduates of teacher preparation programs and students enrolled in other degree programs will be offered. Professionals and retired military personnel interested in starting second careers as teachers will attend workshops and presentations on Virginia’s acclaimed Career-Switcher alternative path to licensure.
About 300 members of high school Teachers for Tomorrow programs are expected to attend a pre-teach-in conference at the convention center on Friday, March 17. More than 60 Virginia high schools now offer Teachers for Tomorrow programs. Participating students learn about teaching as they are guided through the history of education and the functions of schools and school divisions. The students also experience the classroom as they serve internships under the direction of experienced teachers. The internships culminate with students developing and carrying out lesson plans.
Although teacher preparation programs graduate many new teachers each year in Virginia, retirement and attrition rates are increasing. During recent years, Virginia school divisions have had to fill more vacancies than the number of new teachers graduating from the commonwealth’s 37 approved teacher preparation programs.
Research at the national level has projected significant and growing shortages of teachers throughout the country, particularly in the endorsement areas of science, mathematics, foreign languages, and special education. A survey conducted by VDOE during 2005 identified Virginia’s critical shortage areas as earth science, special education, middle and high school mathematics, career and technical education, middle and high school history and social science, elementary education (especially grade 5), health and physical education, reading specialists, English as a second language, and computer science.
The 2006 Great Virginia Teach-In and other teacher retention and support programs are funded through a $13.5 million federal Teacher Quality Enhancement Grant that Virginia received in September 2002. The grant also funds structured mentoring programs for new teachers in 30 school divisions, pilot incentive programs in 4 school divisions with hard-to-staff schools, and access for all school divisions to a statewide electronic job bank.
These initiatives complement ongoing programs to enhance the teaching profession in the commonwealth, including the Virginia Teaching Scholarship Loan Program, which provides financial support for students preparing to teach in critical shortage areas, and subsidies and incentive awards for teachers who are seeking or who have received National Board Certification.