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VSU receives federal funding to address teacher shortage in south GA

Posted at 2:16 PM, Jan 12, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-11 15:16:47-04

VALDOSTA, Ga. — Valdosta State University announced on Thursday that they received $750,000 in federal funding to address the need for more teachers in South Georgia.

The funding is set to address the teacher shortage specifically in overcrowded classrooms and with school districts that are struggling to recruit certified teachers.

According to VSU, the funds are planned to be used for expanding its rural teacher pipeline through scholarships and other support to paraprofessionals who wish to earn a Bachelor of Science in Education in Elementary Education through the university’s Online College for Career Advancement. VSU added participating paraprofessional educators will also be able to continue serving as members of their school's support staff while also earning teaching credentials.

Dr. David Slykhuis, dean of the James L. and Dorothy H. Dewar College of Education and Human Services, says the program focusing on helping paraprofessionals earn their teaching credentials just makes sense. “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," said Slykhuis.

The university's rural teacher pipeline initiative will target paraprofessional educators that work in the rural communities: Appling, Atkinson, Bacon, Baker, Ben Hill, Berrien, Brantley, Brooks, Calhoun, Camden, Charlton, Clay, Clinch, Coffee, Colquitt, Cook, Crisp, Decatur, Dougherty, Early, Echols, Grady, Irwin, Jeff Davis, Lanier, Lee, Lowndes, Miller, Mitchell, Pierce, Quitman, Randolph, Seminole, Telfair, Terrell, Thomas, Tift, Turner, Ware, Wilcox, and Worth.

VSU says United States Representative Buddy Carter of Georgia’s 1st District reportedly requested and secured this funding in the House version of a nearly $1.7 trillion Fiscal Year 2023 Omnibus Appropriations Bill signed by President Joe Biden before the New Year. U.S. Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock of Georgia also supported the university's request for this funding in the Senate.

VSU is the only public institution of higher education that offers an online Bachelor of Science in Education in Elementary Education in Georgia, according to the university.