ODU among Va. schools changing programs to address teacher shortage


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — There is a serious teacher shortage throughout Virginia, but there’s now an effort in Hampton Roads to address it. 

In accord with the 2017 Governor’s Directive to meet the demands of teacher shortages and produce highly qualified teachers in Virginia, Old Dominion University and six other public universities in Virginia are now offering new undergraduate degrees in education.

According to Old Dominion University, there are four new bachelor’s of science degree programs in early childhood education, elementary education, special education and career and technical education, with concentrations in technology education and marketing education. The new programs launch in the fall. 

For the past 10 years, the commonwealth has seen a decline of 40 percent. 

“We are losing 22 percent of all brand new teachers in their first year and we are losing 50 percent of teachers by the time they are hitting their fourth year,” said Jane Bray, Dean of the Darden College of Education and Professional Studies. 

According to Dean Bray, some of the reasons include pay and the increasing stress of the job. 

“If you look at classrooms from the 60s and 70s, they are incredible different than they are now. It’s really an accountability that’s been a pressure packed, stressful job,” said Dean Bray. “The new programs will serve schools by educating more teachers and those future teachers will all be graduating with less student debt.”

Colleges and universities are helping teachers make the grade with a new solution with new four degree programs instead of five, at the directive of Governor Ralph Northam. 

“We must remain focused on meeting the growing needs of our public education system to prepare the Commonwealth’s students for success and secure Virginia’s economic future,” said Governor Northam. “As we work to strengthen Virginia’s educator pipeline, I am pleased to see the approval of these comprehensive changes that will create new pathways to the classroom and help increase both the supply and the diversity of quality teachers in the Commonwealth.

Programs at ODU include seven core courses created with input from local teachers and administrators. 

“They help talk with us and talk to us about what was needed in our classrooms, what is needed in the schools today, and how can we better prepare teachers,” said Bray. “We need teachers, how can we all support teachers in the classroom to do the wonderful work they do on a daily basis.”

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