Home Virginia Board of Education approves UVA, MGCC for Lab Schools
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Virginia Board of Education approves UVA, MGCC for Lab Schools

Crystal Graham
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The Virginia Board of Education has approved the establishment of Virginia’s fifth and sixth lab schools from the University of Virginia and Mountain Gateway Community College creating STEM-focused programs for middle school and high school students.

“These two lab schools embody the intent of lab schools: to bring innovation to every corner of the Commonwealth while also building schools that meet the needs of specific communities,” said Secretary of Education Aimee Guidera. “The growing number of promising lab schools are a testament to the hard work, partnership, and creativity of local school divisions, higher education institutions, employers and community partners.”

The University of Virginia’s proposed lab school will have a specialized focus on infusing STEM and computer science education including data science into its curriculum.

In partnership with Charlottesville City Public Schools, UVA will embed the school in Charlottesville Middle School.

Focused on increasing student engagement in science, the school will also improve the quality of the middle school experience, especially for underrepresented youth, looking to significantly shift the educational trajectory for those students most at-risk.

The lab school will leverage partnerships with UVA’s School of Education and Human Development, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, as well as the School of Data Science.

“We stand ready and excited to bring the mission of the UVA Innovation Hub, to engage all students in personally meaningful, computationally-rich and interdisciplinary learning experiences, to life at Charlottesville Middle School,” said Kim Wilkens, Director of Education and Outreach at the UVA School of Education and Human Development.

Mountain Gateway Community College’s proposed lab school will offer students an information technology focus covering areas such as cybersecurity, cloud computing and information technology support.

Mountain Gateway will partner with public school divisions in Alleghany Highlands, Buena Vista City, Bath County, Botetourt County and Rockbridge County to provide high school students with an educational program combining a core curriculum of theoretical learning and practical skills development in the field of information technology.

With an added focus of helping its students achieve in-demand industry recognized certifications, the lab school will partner with industry leaders such as Amazon and local entities such as Carillion Rockbridge Community Hospital to help provide students with invaluable practical real-world experiences.

“We have created a strong partnership between Mountain Gateway Community College, our business and industry partners, and the school districts in our service area,” said Dr. Ben Worth, Mountain Gateway Community College’s Vice President of Academic Affairs.  “A valuable asset for students, local businesses and our entire community, MG-TEC ensures our region has the skilled workforce needed while offering students impressive starting wages and in-demand industry credentials,”

Virginia Lab Schools are designed to stimulate the development of innovative education programs for Virginia students from preschool through Grade 12.

In partnership with local employers and community organizations, their academic programs focus on expanding opportunities for students with exposure to workplaces designed to highlight the important role success in academics plays in life.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.

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