How Petersburg Public Schools is using local universities to recruit new teachers

PETERSBURG, Va. -- Teacher vacancies is an issue facing many school systems across the Commonwealth including Petersburg. Now, the school system is trying to recruit teachers before they get their degrees.

At Pleasants Lane Elementary school, seven VCU students with the Richmond Teacher Residency have a unique opportunity.

The VCU graduate teacher residency program gives the students full-time teaching experience while they work towards their master’s degree.

Andrea Garcia-Plata is working towards a Master's Degree in Education while doing a residency at Pleasants Lane.

"Every day I'm learning something new,” said Garcia-Plata.

"They're teaching full-time and then they're going to school in the evening, so they're dedicated,” said Dr. Jason Sears, Petersburg Public Schools Supervisor of Human Resources.

Those seven students in the Teacher Residency Program won't have to pay for their master's degree if they complete a three-year contract to teach in Petersburg Public Schools.

"It is definitely a win, win,” said Garcia-Plata. “I'm helping the community by helping their education system and they're helping me by giving me a lot to learn. They're educating me, I'm educating them."

"It's a cutting edge style of building teacher leaders," Dr. Sears added.

But VCU is not the only partner Petersburg Public Schools is using to find qualified teachers.

Virginia State University held a teachers Job Fair Monday afternoon.

"We had about 52 pre-registered,” said Dr. Sears said of local students.

The job fair not only gives prospective teachers a chance to talk with principals, but they also have a unique opportunity to talk with teachers at the various schools.

"They have an opportunity to talk to a teacher at our early childhood center or a teacher at our high school, so they can see, well maybe middle school isn't what I want, maybe it's early childhood."

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