To meet the demand for more instructors in South Georgia, where classrooms are packed, and school districts struggle to attract qualified educators trained to create and inspire young learners, Valdosta State University has received $750,000 in federal funding.
The funds will also be used to develop a rural teacher pipeline by offering scholarships and other assistance to paraprofessionals who wish to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Education in Elementary Education through the university’s Online College for Career Advancement. Participating paraprofessional educators will be able to continue serving as essential members of their school’s support staff while gaining their professional teaching credentials.
The VSU Department of Elementary Education is the only public university in Georgia that provides an online elementary education bachelor’s degree. Enrollment has risen by over 323 percent in a year, from 35 students to 148 pupils this past fall semester. The world-class faculty at VSU teach classes, which are accessible, responsive, and dedicated to offering all learners a positive academic experience.
Buddy Carter, a member of Congress from Georgia’s 1st District, requested and received this money in the House version of a nearly $1.7 trillion Fiscal Year 2023 Omnibus Appropriations Bill passed by President Joe Biden before the New Year. Senators Ossoff and Warnock supported VSU’s request for this funding in the Senate.
“Schools and students need quality teachers now more than ever, and this program focusing on helping paraprofessionals — who already have substantial prior experience in classrooms — earn their teaching credentials makes sense,” according to Dr. David Slykhuis, dean of the James L. and Dorothy H. Dewar College of Education and Human Services. “Through our online elementary education degree program and with this additional financial support, we know we can help fill the teacher shortage in our PreK-5 schools.
“VSU opened in 1913 as a two-year teacher preparation institution. More than 100 years later, we continue to be proud to prepare new generations of graduates ready to change lives in schools and classrooms across our region and beyond.”
Why do Rural Areas Similar to VSU Need Financial Support?
According to the National Council of State Legislatures, 8.9 million American children study in rural schools. One in four schools nationwide is classified as rural. Despite these numbers, larger districts usually receive more funding than their rural counterparts. They also have access to more resources, staff, quality food, toys, and more than larger districts and cities.
Despite specific obstacles in rural regions, kids in these areas consistently outperform their peers on state and national exams. According to the USDA’s Economic Research Service, 22.4 percent of students in non-metropolitan schools were in poverty poor, against 17.3% of students at metro schools last year (while performing well statistically).
Rural schools will benefit from consistent support from government and private entities. Even more so, when pandemics and disasters strike, students from rural schools tend to feel the consequences of these environmental effects more or on the same level as larger districts but without the support larger communities receive.
Student Hires Programs
Student Hires develops hands-on experiential K-12 programs designed to increase the career readiness of disadvantaged youth in the community.
These programs are led by college students and offer an opportunity for real-world, practical experience; by providing invaluable knowledge and skills, these initiatives open doors for young people who may be at an economic disadvantage. If you want more information go to our contact page for more information.
The $750000 grant VSU receives will allow them to expand its facilities and help more people in rural areas; This is a significant step forward for the school and will help many students get the education they need. Are you in a rural school? What grants have you received? Let us know in the comments below.