JMU program aims to help address teacher shortage

Published: May. 11, 2022 at 8:09 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - James Madison University is holding its graduation ceremonies this weekend, and among those graduating are students from the university’s Secondary Education Post-Baccalaureate Program.

It’s intended to help address Virginia’s teacher shortage by fast-tracking a degree for those looking to go into teaching as a second career.

“We’re really excited about the ways that this specific program has been able to contribute to getting caring qualified teachers in front of every learner in Virginia,” said Dr. Angela Webb, the program coordinator and an associate professor at JMU.

The program launched in 2020 and allows anyone with a bachelor’s degree to complete a quick three-semester program and get into the field of teaching.

“A lot of the more traditional master’s programs I think take more time but because of the way the program is set up. I was able to get my degree in 18 months which was nice and now I can start teaching at Harrisonburg High School this fall,” said Dr. Timothy Bill, a new graduate of the program.

Dr. Bill worked as a hand surgeon in the Shenandoah Valley for 17 years before closing his practice during the pandemic and deciding to pursue teaching.

“I had been thinking for some time about going into teaching before that. I always had an interest in basic science and I’m interested in continuing to teach that. I’ve been a student for 30 years now and so I’d like to give back to and honor my former teachers,” said Bill.

Dr. Angela Webb said one of the biggest highlights of the program is that it’s bringing teachers with unique life experiences into the classroom.

“It really is exciting the lived experiences that folks like Dr. Bill can bring from their previous career into the classroom and kind of bring those ideas and concepts to life,” said Webb.

The accelerated teacher training program has had 18 new teachers graduate from it since 2021 and will have 13 more graduates in 2023.

It also partners with local school divisions to get the student’s classroom experience.

“We have built-in multiple opportunities to get students in the program out into the local schools. So the program starts in May and as one of those first classes we have them out in the schools, particularly local middle schools interacting with teachers and students,” said Dr. Webb.

You can learn more about the program here.

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