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VDOE approves lab school at Germanna Community College to accelerate next-gen teachers

Rebecca Barnabi
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Two more lab schools were approved by the Virginia Board of Education at Germanna Community College and the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg.

Germanna’s Future Educators Academy and UMW’s Academy of Technology and Innovation are two of three lab schools among 20 applicants in Virginia and help the Commonwealth to become a national leader in lab school development.

The VBOE unanimously approved the first lab school, VCU x CodeRVA, in July 2023. The goal is to open the lab schools in 2024.

“I’m thrilled by the continued progress we’re seeing in lab school development across the Commonwealth. Lab schools are a critical part of restoring excellence in the Commonwealth’s education system,” Gov. Glenn Youngkin said. “This is the first step in giving parents new options for their kids to learn in innovative and creative ways and break the status quo of a one-size-fits all education.”

Lab schools at Germanna and UMW were also unanimously approved. Germanna’s FEA is an innovative model in collaboration between Germanna, Laurel Ridge Community College and JMU with a focus on an acceleration track for the next generation of high-quality teachers in the region. The lab school reinvigorates the current teacher cadre with innovative opportunities through observations and hands-on practicums and streamlines the pathway to teacher licensure by prioritizing an associate’s degree in high school and allowing students to complete their bachelor’s degree in as little as two years after high school.

“We are excited to see the momentum for innovation continue,” said Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Lisa Coons. ”These lab schools show the possibilities for great alternative programs to help every child find their passion and explore meaningful pathways after graduation.”

Germanna’s FEA will serve as an innovative early college academy focused on preparing tomorrow’s early and special education teachers in Culpeper, Orange, Madison, Rappahannock, Clarke, Fauquier, Frederick, Page, Shenandoah and Warren counties and the city of Winchester.

ATI-UMW will focus on the reciprocal relationship between computer and data science fields, exploring the intersection and distinctions across the fields through an interdisciplinary curricular approach. Students will participate in robust, hands-on learning experiences that will involve project-based learning, performance-based assessment and hands-on service-learning opportunities. The school will have an emphasis on computer and data science fields with innovative, interdisciplinary teaching practices and learning experiences for high school students, and will partner with public school divisions in Stafford, Caroline, King George and Spotsylvania counties and the city of Fredericksburg City. Four of the five counties have authorized an initial commitment and nominated a board member to the governing board for the lab school.

“These two lab schools represent communities coming together to meet the needs not only of our students but of the Commonwealth,” said Virginia Secretary of Education Aimee Guidera. “Throughout the Commonwealth, community colleges, universities, school divisions, employers and community partners are developing creative education models to ensure our students are prepared for success in life beyond the school walls and in our most in demand jobs.”

Related story:

UMW announces academy for ninth-graders with interest in science, computers – Augusta Free Press 


Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.