The most recent annual report from the Virginia Board of Education to the governor sounded multiple alarm bells. One of the loudest clanged to draw attention to Virginia’s growing teacher shortage.

According to the report, the number of unfilled teacher positions statewide is 42 percent higher than in 2008, and an increasing percentage of the positions are held by provisionally licensed or inexperienced teachers. Shortages in special education and elementary education are especially critical in Virginia and nationwide.

It’s in the context of this need that the School of Professional and Continuing Studies introduced a Master of Teaching degree to its curriculum. It is designed for students who hold bachelor’s degrees in disciplines other than education but want to learn the skills to become effective classroom teachers. The program builds on the 30-year track record of the school’s teacher licensure program.

“Our students often receive job offers before completing their student teaching experience and are often awarded ‘Teacher of The Year’ honors,” said Jamelle Wilson, SPCS dean. “Offering a master’s degree in teaching was the next step for us.”

The school began offering coursework during the fall 2019 semester.

“This program aims to equip more teachers with the knowledge and experience they need to not only transition into education, but to achieve sustained success in the classroom,” said Laura Kuti, assistant chair of teacher education.