Whether they are urban, suburban, or rural, Virginia’s 132 school divisions are all facing a major challenge: a severe shortage of teachers. The Virginia Department of Education reports that there are currently more than 1,000 openings for teachers across the Commonwealth, reflecting a rising trend over the past decade.
Students interested in pursuing dual enrollment (DE) classes at Daleville’s Lord Botetourt High School are among those impacted by this deficit. The DE program, which enables LBHS students to earn credits at Virginia Western Community College, while completing their high school graduation requirements, had no instructors available to teach mathematics for a year.
Elizabeth Wilmer, Virginia Western’s vice president of academic and student affairs, reached out to Lorraine Lange, director of the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies, Master of Arts in Teaching, and Master of Arts in Teaching and Learning graduate programs at Hollins University, to brainstorm what could be done.
“Elizabeth mentioned that they could use our help to endorse teachers to teach dual enrollment,” Lange explained. “In order to conduct DE classes at the high school level in Virginia, teachers in Virginia must have a master’s degree and 18 graduate hours in the specific content they would like to teach. So, we began offering online graduate classes in mathematics, English, and history to help teachers throughout the Roanoke Valley and across Virginia qualify to teach DE classes.”
Through Hollins, LBHS teacher Jimmy Yager this summer completed certification to teach DE, and LBHS is now able to restart its dual enrollment class in mathematics beginning this fall.
“Hollins was overwhelmingly helpful as I sought this additional certification,” Yager said. “I examined numerous online programs during my initial inquiry about dual enrollment certification, and I found the flexibility of a complete asynchronous virtual learning program at the university to be a great plus. As a practicing teacher, it is very difficult to have to attend a virtual class at a specific time. The self-paced learning and instructor availability were extremely beneficial. And, I valued the focused approach of a stand-alone path for DE certification.”
Yager added, “There has been a great need for dual enrollment teachers in our district and I am extremely grateful for the efforts of Hollins to help.”
Lange said teachers from as far away as Henry County and Richmond are taking advantage of Hollins’ online courses for DE certification. “We are proud to help teachers, but the real ‘winners’ are the students who will be able to get dual enrollment credit and be ahead when they go to college.”
Lange noted that Hollins will start a new cohort of mathematics classes for DE certification in the spring of 2022; teachers who wish to pursue dual enrollment credit in English and history can start at any time.