MCTEC’s ‘Grow Your Own’ program aims to address teacher shortage

Published: Sep. 8, 2022 at 4:25 PM EDT
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PRINCETON, W.Va. (WVVA) - The ‘Grow Your Own’ program is in its first year at the Mercer County Technical Education Center. It allows those in high school to receive a dual credit opportunity for Bluefield State University and New River Community College.

“They’re getting pretty much their first year, approximately a year and a half of college completely paid for. Then when they go onto their institution they’ll have to pay for their second and third year of college. Then in their fourth year which is their senior year of college, then they’ll actually come back and be under my supervision,” said instructor, Les Farmer.

Farmer says there are about 1,400 teacher openings in West Virginia. He’s hoping to expand the program to offer a paid apprenticeship and partner with more colleges in the state.

“This is a first year program so we’re trying to figure out what works best for us and our students as well as these other institutions. Once we get all the kinks and stuff figured out, especially this semester. I think this program could be even more successful,” said Farmer.

Current students say earning college credit and getting valuable teaching experience has been very helpful for them.

“I learned definitely what age group that I like to work with the most and I got to see what I liked as far as teaching strategies and what works and what doesn’t,” said Princeton High School Senior, Emma Furches.

“So far I’ve just been working with Bluefield and New River’s college, just doing a bunch of work and we’ve talked about next month we’re going to start going into classrooms and helping teachers out,” said Princeton High School Senior, Madison Robinson.

Farmer adds that interest in the program has grown and he expects the growth to continue.