Announced for Smyth County High School Students
Offering Affordable Tuition Pathway
Area Smyth County high school students will have a new affordable option in the region to become teachers thanks to a new Teachers for Tomorrow Program and Smyth County Promise unveiled at a signing ceremony with education leaders from Emory & Henry College, Virginia Highlands Community College and Wytheville Community College. Representatives from each of the community stakeholders attended the ceremony to commemorate the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding at Oak Point Elementary School in Marion on Wednesday, February 7.
“The Teachers for Tomorrow 1+1+2 Program for Smyth County Students helps prospective teachers navigate the cost of higher education in obtaining a degree in teacher preparation," said Dr. Dennis Carter, Division Superintendent of Smyth County Public Schools. “With the financial support of the Smyth County Board of Supervisors and the Smyth County Community Foundation, students who graduate from Smyth County Schools will receive free community college tuition. Additionally, Emory and Henry College has reduced their tuition costs to $15,000 maximum for the final two years of their degree. As we know, the cost of higher education can be a barrier to students. This collaborative effort provides an affordable pathway for prospective educators. We are thankful to the partnerships within our community and with higher education to make this pathway a reality for our students who are interested in the teaching profession.”
The program is a collaboration between Smyth County Schools, Smyth County Board of Supervisors, Smyth County Community Foundation, Wytheville Community College, Virginia Highlands Community College, and Emory and Henry College and is intended to provide an economic pathway for high school students to pursue the teaching profession. This collaboration provides an expedited pipeline for graduates to enter the profession without the cost associated with a traditional higher education experience.
“One of the most impactful people in a child’s life is their teacher, and we’re thrilled to be part of this new pathway to prepare Smyth County students to be teachers in their own community. In our work together, Smyth County Public Schools, Virginia Highlands, Wytheville, and Emory & Henry offer Smyth County residents a complete educational system – from elementary school through advanced degrees, personal enrichment to employment skills,” said Dr. Adam Hutchison, President of Virginia Highlands Community College. “It’s another way Smyth County is a leader in building strong communities in the Commonwealth.”
The Smyth County Board of Supervisors and the Smyth County Community Foundation developed the Smyth County Promise Program for students who graduate from Smyth County Schools. The goal of the Promise Program is to eliminate the barrier of cost associated with attending Wytheville Community College or Virginia Highlands Community College by providing last dollars for tuition costs.
“Wytheville Community College is excited to be a partner in this new ‘Teachers for Tomorrow 1+1+2 Program’ in Smyth County,” said Dr. Dean E. Sprinkle, Wytheville Community College President. “The future of our community and our country depends on having well-trained teachers to educate our youth. This program is designed to encourage high school students to explore teaching career opportunities and then map out their educational pathway to become licensed teachers. Through the vision of the Smyth County Community Foundation and the Smyth County Board of Supervisors, the Smyth County Promise Scholarship will provide these future teachers with free community college tuition to help them achieve their goals while simultaneously addressing the current teacher shortage.”
Emory and Henry College has approved a reduced tuition rate for students who matriculate through the Teachers for Tomorrow Program. Those students will receive a reduced tuition rate of $7,500 per year, excluding the Virginia Tuition Assistance Grant (VTAG).
“Emory & Henry is pleased to join with our education partners in the region to provide this pathway for students who aspire to pursue a career in teaching,” said Dr. Michael J. Puglisi Provost and Executive Vice President, Emory & Henry College. “The Teachers for Tomorrow program demonstrates the benefits of collaboration between public and private educational entities to maximize the opportunities available to our students, as well as to support education in our region by encouraging our future teachers to study and learn close to home.”
Students who elect to be a part of the Teachers for Tomorrow Program will be provided experiential learning opportunities during their senior year of high school through observation and volunteer time within Smyth County Schools. Additionally, the students will complete dual-enrollment classes to meet the first year of their college requirement upon graduation from high school. Year two will be completed through one of the participating community colleges, tuition free, thanks to the Smyth Promise Program. Years three and four will be completed through Emory and Henry College at a reduced tuition rate of $7,500 per year. Therefore, the total expense for a graduate to complete their Bachelor’s degree will be $15,000, prior to any Federal or other external financial assistance.
The program can be completed in three years after completing high school.