As the fall semester came to a close in the days before Thanksgiving, the students in William & Mary’s teacher education programs received an invitation to a special virtual event hosted by Newport News Public Schools (NNPS) on November 23.
The event provided some welcome news in a challenging year. Every single student was offered a position teaching in the school division for the 2021-2022 school year.
Allison Anderson, training & development coordinator for NNPS, and Kelley Clark, director of teacher education for the School of Education, hosted the event. All of the students in W&M’s teacher education programs, including elementary education, secondary education, ESL/bilingual education and special education, were included.
“W&M prepares exceptionally strong teachers and that is something that Newport News Public Schools desperately needs,” said Anderson. “Graduates from William & Mary hit the ground running and that’s the kind of teachers we want in our classrooms.”
The news of the job offers provided a spot of joy and relief amid a year made more challenging than usual by the pandemic. Most teacher education students are in W&M’s master’s programs, which are intense, cohort-based, 12-month programs with a strong focus on practical experiences working in schools. This year, those experiences look very different with most local school divisions providing predominantly online instruction to their K-12 students.
“Our partner school divisions have been remarkably resilient, as have our W&M students,” said Clark. “These students are getting paired with outstanding veteran teachers as mentors and they’re getting the experience they need to confidently step into their own classrooms next year, despite the challenges of the pandemic.”
In addition to the job offers, NNPS is providing signing bonuses to students who commit to teach next year in the division.
“We want to offer you a home — a place to work and to grow,” said Anderson. “We are so thankful for this group of educators who will be prepared to enter the teaching field during an unprecedented time. We are here to support you.”
Students will continue student teaching in partner school divisions this spring and graduate in May 2021. A nationwide teacher shortage means newly-trained teachers are in high demand. Last year, Virginia reported critical teacher shortages in more than 10 teaching endorsement areas, with special education and elementary education topping the list. The job placement rate of William & Mary’s teacher graduates has been nearly 100% for several years running.
“Our work would be impossible without the partnership of local school divisions,” said Rob Knoeppel, dean of the School of Education. “We’re so grateful for partners like Newport News that welcome our students with open arms, provide them with outstanding field experiences and then offer them a place to start their teaching careers after graduation.”