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A new recruitment program — Teachers Ascend into West Virginia — is designed to attract teachers from across the country to teach, live and play in the Mountain State by offering a host of benefits including a stipend and access to free recreational equipment. (WVU Photo)

Teachers from across US invited to teach, live and play in West Virginia

Teachers Ascend into West Virginia, a first-of-its-kind national program based at West Virginia University and designed to attract teachers to the Mountain State, is now accepting applications. WVU, the West Virginia Public Education Collaborative and the West Virginia Department of Education invite new and seasoned K-12 educators with a spirit of adventure to apply.

Inspired and modeled by the success of Ascend West Virginia and other nationwide rural teacher corps initiatives, this two-year relocation program calls on teachers from across the country to move to West Virginia, teach in select K-12 schools, and find a meaningful work-life balance through shared community and outdoor adventure.

WVU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Maryanne Reed said the collaborative effort aims to address West Virginia’s teacher shortage while building on other successful initiatives across the region.

“Teachers Ascend capitalizes on West Virginia’s prime assets of friendly people, beautiful nature and a low cost of living to attract high-quality, passionate teachers to our area,” Reed said. “We hope to leverage the ongoing success of the Ascend West Virginia program to help fill vacant positions in our K-12 classrooms — now and into the future.”

Qualifying candidates must complete a college degree by summer 2024, be hired by select West Virginia county school systems, hold the required teaching certifications prior to the 2024-25 school year, and be willing to relocate and live in West Virginia.

Teachers Ascend is much more than a recruitment and retention program, according to Donna Hoylman Peduto, WVPEC executive director.

“The program leans into teachers’ professional interests, ideal work environment and quality-of-life aspirations,” Peduto said. “We’re excited to offer a host of benefits to help welcome cohort members in and out of the classroom.”

Those who qualify for the program will receive a $6,000 stipend and can obtain up to $4,050 in tuition assistance for continued educational opportunities through the WVU College of Applied Human Sciences.

Cohort members will also have access to success coaches, mentors, professional development support and a concierge service for additional summer employment opportunities. The Brad and Alys Smith Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative will also offer free outdoor recreational equipment, co-working space, and regular social, outdoor and community building activities.

State Superintendent Michele Blatt welcomes Teachers Ascend as one of many ways the Department of Education is working to fill vacant teaching positions in West Virginia schools.

“Teachers Ascend is complementary to our multi-pronged teacher recruitment and retainment efforts,” Blatt said. “We will continue to foster innovative programs to help elevate the teaching profession in West Virginia and build a sustainable teacher pipeline centered on placing high-quality teachers in our classrooms to educate our students.”

Ascend West Virginia inaugural cohort member Heather Mae Pusztai said she is thrilled the Ascend model is expanding to teachers.

“Moving to Morgantown as part of Ascend’s first cohort has been the experience of a lifetime,” Pusztai said. “To land in a new place and be immediately welcomed into a community of kind, welcoming, and adventurous new friends has made this city feel like home from day one, not only for me, but my whole family. As a parent of three school-age kids, I’m so excited to welcome the first cohort of Teacher Ascenders to the greater Morgantown area.”

Selected candidates will teach in Monongalia or Preston County schools as part of the inaugural cohort.

Teachers Ascend into West Virginia is funded by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and Remake Learning. Funding is administered through the WVU Foundation, the nonprofit organization that receives and oversees private donations on behalf of the University. 

Find more information about Teachers Ascend into West Virginia.

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