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Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) Announces Partnership with The George Washington University’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development

Alexandria, VA–Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) is launching an innovative partnership with The George Washington University’s (GW) Graduate School of Education and Human Development to expand the number of special education instructional assistants and teachers who serve ACPS preK-12 students in its 18 schools. Individuals will be able to apply at the same time to both the GW master’s program and employment within ACPS. While in their first year of the program, graduate students will work as ACPS instructional assistants to develop key instructional strategies, learn best practices and receive targeted professional learning from both ACPS and GW teams. They will then have the opportunity to move into teacher roles for their second year in the program. ACPS has committed to offering $800 in funding to each program participant to aid in tuition costs on an annual basis. The program will begin recruiting applicants with the goal of establishing the first cohort of students by summer 2023. ACPS career information is available online

 “We are so excited about our new partnership with The George Washington University’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development as a way to increase interest in special education as a career and add qualified teachers in ACPS,” said ACPS Interim Superintendent Dr. Melanie Kay-Wyatt. “As we work to serve all students, it is critical that we explore new pathways to identify highly qualified special education teachers. As a former special education teacher myself, I know that a program like this will help graduate students get the rigorous training and practical experience they need to shine in our classrooms.”

 The program will ensure that GW graduate students earning their master’s degrees in education are aware of ACPS career opportunities and that school division staff interested in special education are informed about the GW graduate program. Initial recruitment will offer webinars and materials to ACPS staff currently working as instructional assistants, substitute teachers and other staff positions so they can consider earning an advanced degree at GW and qualifying for a higher-paying teaching position in special education at ACPS.

"The ACPS-GW partnership is grounded in our strong, shared commitment to address the urgent need for highly qualified special education teachers in our schools,” said GW’s Special Education & Disability Studies Department Chair and Associate Professor, Dr. Beth Tuckwiller. “Our collaborative teacher preparation partnership creates pathways for paraprofessionals to become teachers, connects GW pre-service teachers to opportunities in a highly regarded local school district, and provides a comprehensive, state-of-the-art teacher preparation experience which effectively leverages the strengths and resources of both partners to create a robust and sustainable teacher pipeline. We are excited and grateful to have the opportunity to partner with ACPS to prepare highly skilled, knowledgeable, and responsive teachers to serve local students and their families."

ACPS will host an informational event in early February that is open to all interested individuals, including current ACPS employees and GW students who will be invited to attend. Anyone interested in pursuing this exciting opportunity can apply through the ACPS website which will have a specialized position posting and application available at the time of the February 2023 informational event. The ACPS and GW teams will collaboratively review applications to determine eligibility for the first cohort and share program enrollment decisions by early March 2023. Cohort members will be invited to attend networking and interview events throughout spring 2023 with ACPS school leaders to facilitate the employment process, and offer letters will be issued by June 2023.

 “We are thrilled about the launch of this exciting program and the chance to work with the GW graduates who are committed to helping our students learn and grow. This is such a rewarding career, and we want to ensure we have compassionate, highly qualified teachers for all of our students,” said ACPS Chief of Teaching, Learning and Leadership Dr. Wendy Gonzalez. 

 The program is one step in ACPS’ efforts to ramp up recruiting to fill all positions within the school division with highly qualified candidates. In a presentation to the Alexandria School Board on Oct. 20, 2022, the Department of Human Resources addressed current challenges faced in recruiting for preK-12 school divisions and highlighted improvements in ACPS recruiting and hiring over the past year, including:

  • 65% more hires by July 1, 2022 compared to the same date in 2021
  • More hire actions completed by the start of school year (SY) 22-23 than were processed in the entirety of SY 21-22
  • Principal buy-in to pool methodology
  • 40% more fairs attended in spring 2022 than in spring 2021
  • Implementation of transportation recruitment incentive 

 ACPS Director of Talent Recruitment and Retention Margaret Browne reported that ACPS now has established applicant pools, hosts specialized recruitment events, collaborates closely with school leaders and hiring managers on recruitment and staffing strategies and has grown strong partnerships, such as the one with GW. Browne’s team is starting earlier with recruiting for the 2023-24 school year and has job fairs and other career events scheduled to highlight the benefits of ACPS to teachers in the region, new graduates, student teachers and interns and potential applicants reached via partner organizations. ACPS has a robust partnership program with historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), Latinx organizations and other groups to reach a diverse pool of job applicants. Follow @ACPSk12Careers on Twitter for the most up-to-date information on ACPS careers and recruitment activities.

 “Our partnership with GW reflects our commitment in ACPS to building strong relationships with universities and professional organizations to reach a diverse candidate pool and share with them the unique aspects of working in our school division,” said Browne. “I want to thank the GW team for working with us on this new program that takes a long-term view to increasing the number of special education teachers to fill a critical need in our schools and I look forward to bringing in additional GW graduates to serve our students in ACPS.” 

 Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) serves more than 15,700 students who hail from more than 119 countries and speak 124 languages. ACPS has 18 schools, including two middle schools, two K-8 schools, one pre-K school and the internationally recognized Alexandria City High School. ACPS is committed to putting racial equity at the heart of all decisions and ensuring that each and every student succeeds.