New VSU ‘HERO’ program to help teacher shortage

VSU hero program helps education students get first hand experience while helping with teacher shortages.
Published: Sep. 29, 2023 at 6:08 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 29, 2023 at 6:09 PM EDT
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PETERSBURG, Va. (WWBT) - A new program at Virginia State University is said to help with the teacher shortage problem throughout Petersburg Public Schools.

It’s called the ‘Hero’ program. It stands for Hybrid Education Residence Opportunity. It gives juniors and seniors working towards an education degree at VSU a chance to get classroom experience.

Similar to a paid internship, there are student teachers at all of the public elementary schools in Petersburg and one at Petersburg High School.

One student teacher, Kendrick Mason, told NBC12 that it is a challenging program but worth it. He’s one of the 6 or 5 VSU students in the program. He teaches a Special Education class at Lakemont Elementary School.

“We are actual students who want to have a classroom,” Mason said. “I get my own students, my own caseload for a full year, and get to know what it’s really, really like to work as a teacher. This really is how you teach a kid to read. This is really how you teach a kid mathematics, and so getting to see that in real-time has been incredibly, incredibly humbling.”

Meanwhile, VSU leaders said this program was created to give their students a new opportunity while giving schools more instructors to help with the shortage in the future.

“It will encourage some future individuals to go into teaching,” said Willis Walter, the dean at the College of Education at Virginia State University.

He said he hopes this program will be incorporated into other county schools they partner with, like Chesterfield, Dinwiddie and Prince George.