CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) — West Virginia teacher strikes, and the fight over charter schools dominated the past two legislative sessions. What slipped under the radar of many, however, was the renewal in the massive Education Reform Bill, of the Underwood-Smith Teaching Scholars Program. The idea is to give recent or pending high school graduates, up to $10,000 per year in college scholarships if they agree to teach in West Virginia.
“We know from talking with the Department of Education that we have significant teacher shortages in this state, particularly in math, science and special education. And this is one attempt to try to meet those shortage needs,” said Dr. Sarah Tucker, Chancellor, WV Higher Education Policy Commission.
The student-teachers will be paired with a current teacher as a mentor. To qualify, you must be a recent or pending high school graduate who wants to be a teacher. Priority is given to applicants who file by December 31st. And you have to apply online at TeachInWV.com While teachers unions support the program, it only provides 25 scholarships a year, when the state has 800 teacher vacancies
“It’s a small step, though. We really have to address the issue of having our salaries competitive, and giving respect back to the profession, when the Legislature and everyone keeps taking shots at the profession,” said Dale Lee, President, West Virginia Education Association.
The scholarships are open to students from all 50 states, but winners must be willing to move to West Virginia.
Now, students who win these scholarships must agree to teach in West Virginia for a minimum of five years after graduation. If they break that promise, they must repay all of the scholarship funds.