Henrico representatives are providing additional resources to these 9 schools

To help recruit and retain teachers at schools with more vacancies, including those in Fairfield and Varina Districts, officials at Henrico County Public Schools will designate nine hard-to-fill schools as “opportunity schools” and give them additional resources for three years provide. HCPS Chief Learning Officer Lesley Hughes told the Henrico School Board during its February 23 working session.

At these schools – the Academy at Virginia Randolph/Virginia Randolph Education Center, Fair Oaks Elementary School, Glen Lea Elementary School, Laburnum Elementary School, Elko Middle School, Fairfield Middle School, John Rolfe Middle School, Highland Springs High School and Varina High School — Licensed teachers are eligible for an additional $3,000 in compensation, Hughes said. Schools could also get additional administrators, permanent deputies and teacher grantees (new posts created as part of the school system’s “career ladder” that will support new and provisionally licensed teachers), she said.

District officials will soon be meeting with principals to develop each school’s plan, Hughes said.

“It will be critical to continue to manually review each school’s data and give school leaders a voice in the planning process to meet each school’s needs,” she said.

According to school system officials, the nine schools have an overall rate of 25% or more of vacancies and provisionally licensed staff.

Tuckahoe District Representative Marcie Shea commended officials for developing the Opportunity Schools program in a “meaningful way.”

“If [Opportunity Schools are] successful, then a school will drop out of that category because we want turnover and makeshift teachers to go down,” Shea said.

Fairfield Representative Rev. Roscoe Cooper said it is important to continue to ensure that a diverse group of teachers fill vacancies fairly in Henrico County public schools.

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The announcement comes as part of a larger effort by school system officials to hire and retain teachers through career development and raise opportunities. The system retained fewer of its teachers (86%) in its final school year compared to its 91% retention rate in each of the previous two school years, Chief Human Resources Officer Francine Bouldin told the board on Thursday.

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Competitive salaries are critical to retaining teachers, Bouldin said. This school year, Henrico teachers received a 5.06% pay rise and two new paid spa days. Teachers received $500 retention bonuses in September and $500 appreciation bonuses in December, and can also collect $500 referral bonuses that will increase to $1,000 next school year, Bouldin said.

In addition to financial incentives, Henrico runs support programs for new teachers and professional development opportunities that can result in salary increases.

The department has established programs to help new teachers obtain their licenses. Provisionally licensed teachers who have bachelor’s degrees in subjects other than education are important in filling vacancies, Talent Acquisition Ambassador Kenya Jackson said. Henrico has 316 provisionally licensed teachers this year, compared to 266 provisional teachers last year.

Temporary teachers have just three years to complete six required courses, each costing about $800, said Tracie Weston, director of professional learning and leadership. To reduce financial barriers, the department seeks scholarships and partnerships with local universities in teacher residency programs. Subject to Virginia Department of Education approval, it will fund online licensing through iTeach coupled with learning from a Henrico School educator.

Along with iTeach, the Career Ladder program reimburses full-time employees $1,500 for coursework, conferences, workshops, license renewal fees, and license assessments.

In this school year, the second phase of the career ladder started this year cohort programs for microcredentials and specializations.

More than 300 Henrico teachers have earned micro-credentials or competency-based courses offered both by the department and by external educational organizations. Approved programs focus on topics such as advanced placement reader training, trauma-informed educator, and teaching English as a second language.

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“By completing two professional learning programs with microcredit, teachers with five years of teaching experience are eligible to work with a cohort of HCPS educators to achieve specialization in a specific area of ​​interest,” Weston said.

The first two 32-week specialization cohorts on Teaching and Learning and Diverse Learners began Jan. 10, Weston said. Forty-eight elementary and secondary school staff from across the county complete the specialization, which Weston says was “like a district-designed master’s degree” taught by experts within the department.

Upon completion of a specialization, eligible staff can receive a 4.8% raise and apply to become additional faculty members teaching future specializations, Weston said.

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Superintendent Amy Cashwell addressed board members’ concerns about teachers being overwhelmed and said Henrico tries to meet all of its staff’s needs within the department.

“So how do you have opportunities for growth and development and leadership? [as a teacher], and this provides what was really a missing path there,” Cashwell said. “And it’s certainly not intended as a requirement or an extra for anyone, and certainly upfront payments come naturally through our compensation plan and not just for those who participate here.”

Tuckahoe County Representative Marcie Shea said she is happy to see opportunities that could qualify teachers to teach dual enrollment and advanced placement programs that the department is trying to expand.

“As we’re trying to really expand those opportunities across the board, I’m glad we have this content area master’s degree to hopefully expand those opportunities for our students,” she said.

The division also includes teacher training in its professional and technical training program. Aspiring juniors will complete a rigorous curriculum and follow a detailed apprenticeship agreement at the new Hermitage Advanced Career Education Center, said Mac Beaton, director of the Department of People and Career Development.

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“The experiences will allow them to enter the profession with a much better understanding of what it takes to become an effective teacher and a deeper understanding of the overall education system for Henrico County,” said Beaton. “This is a cost-effective way of retaining students early on in the profession.”

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