Teach for America Appalachia aims to fill teacher vacancies in West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A new teacher certification program in West Virginia will help young educators pay for coursework.

Robert Mellace

The Teach for America Appalachia (TFAA) program recently wrapped up the application period for candidates who currently hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

The program, overseen by the state Department of Education and approved by the state Board of Education, will provide a variety of training, virtual and in-person practicum experiences and mentoring in order to fill areas of critical need.

Robert Mellace, coordinator with the WVDE’s Office of Educator Development and Support, told MetroNews it’s another option to get more qualified teachers into classrooms.

“The more programs that are available and the more efforts that they put in to trying to recruit individuals into this career path, the more likely we’re going to have high quality educators across the state,” he said.

TFAA program is among the four approved under the WVDE’s Option 3 Pathway. It will support candidates with coursework at no cost to successfully pursue a non-transferrable provisional professional teaching certificate in the state.

Mellace said teachers would need to work in areas that have vacancies.

“They would need to find employment on a first class full-time permit. To get a first class full-time permit, you have to have an employment offer in an area of critical need and shortage within a county,” he said.

The program is meant for teachers to remain in their initial schools. Mellace hopes TFAA will serve as another way to address the ongoing statewide teacher shortage.

“The goal would be to find as many qualified individuals or high quality candidates as possible to help fill some of those vacancies that are across the state for teaching because we know we need to find a lot of good teachers for our students,” he said.

West Virginia’s plan will be similar to the Kentucky model that has been in place since 2011.

“They had a success rate of about 85 percent there and they’re expanding to West Virginia,” Mellace said.

There was a three-week window for candidates to apply to the program this year. Mellace said there will be a lot more opportunities for next year.

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