CHARLESTON, W.Va. – To launch the Pathways to Teaching Initiative, State Superintendent of Schools W. Clayton Burch began a tour of several Kanawha County Schools, acting as the first of many county visits to promote the new initiative. The initiative is a part of the TeachWV Grow Your Own Program and was created to allow high school students to “pursue a teaching degree through pathways counties develop with their higher education partners.”

Alongside Superintendent Burch was West Virginia Teacher of the Year Brian Casto, who shared his own experiences in teaching.

“As the state’s current Teacher of the Year, I find no better way to use this platform than to encourage students to pursue teaching as a career,” said Casto. “The impact you have on young people and the investment you make in their lives is not only rewarding but also extremely humbling.”

Participating class of Riverside HS

In the face of a teacher shortage, the Pathways to Teaching Initiative was conceived to allow students to pursue a teaching degree while still in high school by participating in “college-level courses and unique practical classroom experiences under the direction of veteran teachers” set up by their respective participating counties working with higher education institution partners.

“The Pathway to Teaching Initiative is an exciting opportunity for our counties and our students because it creates a roadmap to address a critical issue in our state,” said Superintendent Burch. “Our goal is to bring talent back to the county that is equipped with the pedagogy and residency experience this initiative offers. As a result, we believe our counties will not only be able to attract teachers but also retain them at higher rates.”

Students will be able to earn up to 30 college credits and complete a year of college at significantly reduced costs, greatly advancing their position in college by the time they graduate high school and setting them up to begin their residency and earn their bachelor’s degree within three years.

Participating class of St. Albans High School

28 counties in the state are participating in the pilot.

Those interested can visit the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDOE) website, teachwv.com, to view information about “alternative pathways to teaching, as well as information about teacher preparation programs and testimonials from college students and classroom teachers.”

“Kanawha County is pleased to be a part of the Grow Your Own Pathway to Teaching pilot project,” said Kanawha County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Tom Williams. “We know there are many students interested in pursuing the teaching profession, and this will be an excellent inroad for them. Collaboratively, we are making strides to prepare our next generation of teachers and keep them home as they return to teach in Kanawha County.”

Students in participating counties will begin the program next school year. In the coming weeks, the tour with stop in 12 counties across W.Va.

To learn more about the Grow Your Own Pathway to Teaching Initiative, visit the WVDOE website.