WVDE Awarded Benedum Foundation Grant

June 28, 2006

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation has awarded the West Virginia Department of Education $290,000 over three years to recruit and retain highly qualified teachers.  

The grant will fund a one-year push to expand participation in the National Board Certification program. The Department also plans to use the grant to develop alternative certification options for prospective teachers, pilot a best practices mentoring program, expand online professional development and launch a recruitment initiative.  

“Teachers who earn National Board Certification represent the gold standard in teaching and are among the most effective teachers in our classrooms today,” said state Superintendent Steve Paine. “We’re proud of West Virginia’s 244 National Board Certified Teachers. But in my estimation, that number is too low. This grant will allow us to encourage the state’s more than 20,000 teachers to join the National Board Certified Teacher family.”  

The Department hopes by expanding alternative certification options and professional development, schools will be able to address the pockets of shortages seen in certain regions and disciplines, including foreign languages, science, math and special education. And state leaders hope the best practices mentoring pilot program will give new teachers the support they need so that they remain part of the teaching corps.  

“New teachers can become overwhelmed,” said Karen Huffman, director of the West Virginia Department of Education’s Office of Professional Preparation. “We hope this project will help young teachers develop their skills so that they remain in the classroom instead of quitting and leaving the profession out of frustration.”  

The Pittsburgh-based Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation is an independent foundation established in 1944 by West Virginia natives Michael and Sarah Benedum.

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