CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Superintendent of Kanawha County Schools Dr. Tom Williams was excited to deliver the news during a county board of education meeting Thursday that West Virginia University will start providing up to 25 teachers the opportunity to earn their Master’s degree in reading.

Kanawha County School Superintendent Tom Williams

Tom Williams

“They have lowered their tuition and with ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) funds, we are going to be able to provide 25 teachers with a Master’s degree in reading and they will come out as a reading specialist,” Dr. Williams said.

According to Dr. Williams, the program will be a two-year, online program with the possibility of some in-person meetings. Right now, both sides are figuring out the criteria for what teachers are eligible. Upon completion of the Master’s program in reading literacy, the select teachers will have to commit to Kanawha County for a certain number of years.

“I think that will be a tremendous help to our students in those classrooms for years and years to come,” said Dr. Williams.

Talks of a collaborative effort between West Virginia University and Kanawha County Schools started two years ago. Dr. Williams said West Virginia University and President Gordon Gee wanted to have a bigger presence in Kanawha County. So, they came to an agreement. Dr. Williams told Gee that the county wanted more teachers for math, reading, special education, etc. Then, the announcement from Dr. Williams came this week of the Master’s program.

Gordon Gee

“25 of our teachers will be able to get a free Master’s degree in reading literacy.”

Autumn Cyprès became dean of the WVU College of Applied Human Sciences in May 2022. The School of Education is under that college. Williams spoke highly of Cyprès ever since they became familiar with each other at the beginning of the year. He called her a “go-getter.”

“They’ve been down here to visit our schools,” Williams said. “We’ve had several meetings down here with them and then last week they took some of us up to WVU.”

Williams said the program will better train teachers on how to better teach the reading material and students in those classrooms will benefit in the long run.

“I’m truly really excited about it,” he said.