The University of Virginia’s College at Wise and Bristol Virginia Public Schools are working together to promote diversity in the classroom by encouraging students of various backgrounds to become teachers in the city’s school system.

The program, when officially signed, would provide successful applicants with a $5,000 annual scholarship at UVA Wise. Students in the program would also agree to teach at one of the city’s public schools and would be eligible for up to $10,000 to help with student loan repayment.

“The partnership between BVPS and UVA Wise will address teacher shortages, enhance the diversity of teaching faculty and will encourage diverse students to seek careers in education,” Andy Cox, chair of the College’s education department said. “Our region continues to grow and change both in diversity and economic development. This is another wonderful opportunity for the College to support diversity in the classroom and to make the dream of a college degree a reality.”

BVPS and UVA Wise reached the agreement this month that will allow the school division to enhance the diversity of its teaching pool so it is more representative of the student population of BVPS. The program would also enhance the diversity of the teaching staff in the local school system. The College and the school system agreed to establish the teaching service obligation to help accomplish those goals.

Under the program, students would enter a contract with the School Board and UVA Wise to pursue an educational program at the College that would lead to licensure to teach in public schools in Virginia. Recipients would begin full-time teaching in a BVPS school within one year of being licensed to teach in Virginia public schools.

Applicants must be graduates of BVPS who apply and are accepted by UVA Wise within 18 months of high school graduation. Preference will be given to applicants who have a demonstrated history of overcoming disadvantages, are first generation college students, are from a low income family, been raised in a single family household and have demonstrated experience or a commitment to serving historically underserved or underprivileged populations.

UVA Wise will review each applicant’s qualifications on an individual basis and consider factors such as socioeconomic status, educational background, academic performance, and life experiences consistent with the goal of obtaining the educational benefits of diversity.