Radford University establishes Southwest Virginia Teacher Apprenticeship Consortium

Radford University is partnering with local school divisions to help resolve the growing teacher shortage by establishing the Southwest Virginia Teacher Apprenticeship Consortium (SWVTAC).

With "Grow Your Own" grant funding awarded from the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) and contributions from Radford University and area school divisions, the SWVTAC partners have developed a regional registered teacher apprenticeship program to provide aspiring teachers with a cost‐effective, job‐embedded pathway into the teaching profession. Upon successful completion of the program, apprentices will be offered a teaching contract with employment beginning in fall 2025.

School divisions in regions 6 (Western Virginia) and 7 (Southwest), including Bland County, Carroll County, Galax City, Giles County, Pulaski County, Radford City, Wythe County and Roanoke City, have joined with Radford University to establish the consortium. 

“With the increasing number of teacher vacancies in our region, it is imperative that all stakeholders work together to proactively respond to the growing shortage of qualified teachers,” said Tamara Wallace, dean of the College of Education and Human Development. “Our college is deeply committed to our partnership with the SWVTAC and our innovative teacher preparation model that not only provides school divisions the opportunity to ‘grow their own’ teachers but also helps them retain talent within Southwest Virginia.”

The teacher shortage in Virginia has required schools to meet their needs in non-traditional ways. The benefits of teacher apprentices include a focus on cultivating talent from the communities the program serves, and in expanding the teacher pipeline to people who want to become teachers but who also need to work full-time. By removing this obstacle and providing an opportunity for aspiring teachers to earn while they learn, schools can ensure that they are hiring high-quality teachers.

“The Southwest Virginia Teacher Apprenticeship Consortium is a wonderful example of how Radford University embraces the responsibility to serve our communities,” President Bret Danilowicz said. “With the launch of SWVTAC and our recent announcement of the Provisional to Professional Pathway project, Radford is committed to creative solutions that will help solve Virginia’s teacher shortage. This apprenticeship program has the dual benefit of opening new and affordable pathways to rewarding careers for working adults and improving classroom experiences for young learners throughout Southwest Virginia.”

Beginning this spring, teacher apprentices will be employed in school divisions within the SWVTAC and work under the direct supervision of a classroom teacher while completing requirements for a bachelor’s degree and full teacher licensure with teaching endorsements in both elementary education (Pre-K-6) and special education: general curriculum (K-6). Seven teacher apprentices have been hired for the inaugural cohort and are expected to complete the apprenticeship program in May 2025. 

“The structure of teacher training has changed very little in the past 50 years,” said Amanda Bozack, director of the School of Teacher Education and Leadership. “Virginia’s registered apprenticeship program is an exciting opportunity for our program to work closely with school division partners and to design learning experiences that match the needs of our on-the-job learners. We are thrilled to be a partner in this work.”

“Given the current trend of fewer people becoming educators, this program will allow Roanoke City Public Schools to provide an additional pipeline for our students who are enrolled in programs such as Teachers for Tomorrow or who show an interest in the education field and employees who currently work as paraprofessionals within the school division,” said Archie Freeman, chief academic officer for Roanoke City Public Schools. “Ensuring we have passionate, high-quality educators to teach our children in the future will benefit our city, our region, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and our nation for generations to come. We are excited to partner with Radford University and our neighboring school divisions on this exciting program.”

Those interested in participating in the apprenticeship can contact Radford’s School of Teacher Education and Leadership at stel@radford.edu.

Feb 19, 2024
Patrick Reed
(540) 831-5037