Hanover County Public Schools (HCPS) has launched a first-of-its-kind program to support educators with provisional teaching licenses.
The Provisional Academy for Teachers in Hanover (PATH) is a three-year program that is led by HCPS faculty to support provisionally licensed teachers by offering a concentrated in-house curriculum, a collaborative environment, and job embedded experiences to help them grow in their profession. Teachers who successfully complete this program will have a full teaching license, saving them thousands of dollars by completing this coursework in-house versus having to complete the required coursework at a college or university. This is the first professional studies alternate route to licensure program offered by a school division in Virginia.
“We are incredibly proud to offer this unique program to our provisionally licensed teachers, as one of the largest struggles they encounter on their journey to full licensure is finding, funding, and completing the required coursework,” said Dr. Michael Gill, Superintendent of Schools. “This program demonstrates our commitment to supporting our faculty and staff while also ensuring that the students of our county are taught by the highest quality teachers.”
The first cohort of teachers in the program began meeting in August and includes 44 educators. The Virginia Department of Education approved the HCPS proposal for the program, funding for which was included in the school division’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget this summer.
As part of the program, provisionally licensed teachers – the number of which have grown in Hanover from 26 in the 2019-20 school year to 66 in the 2021-22 school year – receive support from both their instructors (HCPS personnel), mentors (teachers at their school who will regularly meet with them while receiving professional learning themselves), and each other, building a strong support system as they begin their teaching career.
“We are so impressed with the teachers who have committed to our first cohort of the PATH program. In the early weeks of the program, they have already collaboratively explored research on human growth and development concepts and classroom management strategies and applied those ideas into well-crafted lesson plans with the support of our curriculum specialists,” said Dr. Amy Thompson, HCPS Professional Learning Coordinator. “Equally as important, they have consistently demonstrated a willingness to be vulnerable in their learning and are beginning to build strong relationships with one another and the PATH team. These relationships will provide support as the school year unfolds and serve as a model for developing strong bonds with students, parents, and colleagues.”
Said Michelle Quinn, HCPS Licensure Specialist: “During the challenges of a nationwide teacher shortage, creating programs like PATH to support and provide opportunities is paramount to the recruitment and retention of our teachers. We are excited that as a school division, we have worked together to create a program that will provide our provisionally licensed teachers an encouraging and supportive environment to help them become successful in the classroom.”
Over the course of the program, educators in the program remain as classroom teachers. With the program fully funded by HCPS, these provisionally endorsed teachers won’t need to stress over funding their coursework at an external program. Additionally, HCPS develops the curriculum and instructional activities of the courses, allowing the school division to align them with its focus areas and expectations.
During the school year, teachers in the program meet once a month for a full day of learning and twice each month with their PATH mentors at their schools.