For Immediate Release:
November 29, 2023
Primary Media Contact:
Public Relations Specialist
A new partnership Laurel Ridge Community College has with Germanna Community College and James Madison University will give aspiring teachers a jump start on their education degrees while still in high school – and help mitigate the teacher shortage facing the state’s K-12 system.
The Virginia General Assembly established the College Partnership Laboratory Fund in 2022, allocating $100 million to the initiative. The first lab school, affiliated with Virginia Commonwealth University, was approved by the Virginia Board of Education this past July. On Nov. 15, the board approved two more lab schools – the Future Educators Academy and the University of Mary Washington’s Academy of Technology and Innovation.
The Future Educators Academy is designed to help shore up the teaching gap in Virginia. Students will earn their associate degree while simultaneously earning their high school advanced studies diploma, and receive guaranteed admission into JMU’s College of Education. They would then be able to earn their bachelor’s degree in education within as soon as two years.
Laurel Ridge President Kim Blosser said the college is very excited to partner with Germanna to operate the lab school at both the Middletown and Fauquier campuses.
“All of the public school divisions in our service region are experiencing teacher shortages, and our rural school divisions are often hit the hardest,” said Dr. Blosser. “We are very excited to help meet that need by educating high school students who will live and work in our region.”
Students in Germanna’s lab school will begin next fall, while those at Laurel Ridge will start in fall 2025.
While the curriculum is rigorous and accelerated, the Future Educators Academy is designed to be accessible to all students who have a passion for teaching, including at-risk student groups and students with pandemic-related learning loss, according to a press release from Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who has made establishing lab schools a priority of his.
“The idea of the Future Educators Academy,” said Dr. Janet Gullickson, president of Germanna, “is to create a no-cost, accelerated pipeline to quickly fill teacher openings by growing our own K-12 teachers in partnership with school divisions. Graduates will work and live in their hometown communities after university graduation, having completed the first two years of their teaching degrees at the same time as they graduate from high school. We also hope that this concept may be replicated across the commonwealth to address severe teacher shortages.”
Founded in 1970, Laurel Ridge Community College is a multi-campus public institution of higher education. With three locations — Middletown, Warrenton, and Luray-Page County — the College serves eight localities in the Shenandoah Valley and northern Piedmont regions. The localities are the counties of Clarke, Fauquier, Frederick, Page, Rappahannock, Shenandoah and Warren and the city of Winchester. Laurel Ridge offers more than 75 associate degree and certificate programs in a wide variety of disciplines, in addition to providing access to bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs offered on site by a four-year institution. Laurel Ridge also serves the business community by offering workforce preparation programs for employees and employers. Laurel Ridge serves more than 9,000 unduplicated credit students and more than 11,000 individuals in professional development and business and industry courses annually.
Laurel Ridge Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award associate degrees. Laurel Ridge Community College also may offer credentials such as certificates and diplomas at approved degree levels. Questions about the accreditation of Laurel Ridge Community College may be directed in writing to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA 30033-4097, by calling (404) 679-4500, or by using information available on SACSCOC’s website (www.sacscoc.org).
Laurel Ridge Community College is an equal opportunity institution providing educational and employment opportunities, programs, services, and activities. Laurel Ridge shall promote and maintain equal employment and educational opportunities without regard to race, color, religion, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, marital status, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions including lactation, age (except when age is a bona fide occupational qualification), status as a veteran, national origin, or other non-merit factors. Laurel Ridge also prohibits sexual misconduct including sexual violence or harassment. Inquiries may be directed to the Associate Vice President, Human Resources, [email protected], 173 Skirmisher Lane, Middletown, VA 22645, 540-868-7226.
Laurel Ridge Community College was known as Lord Fairfax Community College until June 2022. For consistency purposes, the college will be referenced as Laurel Ridge going forward.