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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Twenty-five high school seniors who graduated this year — including three from Boone County — have been selected as West Virginia’s first Underwood-Smith Teaching Scholars. These students will receive the state’s newest and most prestigious scholarship of up to $10,000 per year — or $40,000 total — for their college education as they prepare to pursue rewarding careers as West Virginia teachers.

The Boone scholars are:

  • Jacob Massey from Sherman High School, who is attending West Virginia State University to pursue a degree in math.
  • Isabella Vint from Scott High School, who is attending Marshall University to pursue a degree in math.
  • Kensley White from Van Junior Senior High School, who is attending West Virginia State University to pursue a degree in elementary education.

“I’m incredibly proud of these young scholars, and I can’t wait to see what they accomplish over the next four years and beyond,” Sarah Armstrong Tucker, Chancellor of West Virginia’s Higher Education Policy Commission and Community and Technical College System, said in a news release. “When we worked with the Legislature and Governor Justice last year to revamp this program, we knew we wanted to create a preeminent scholarship that would produce new generations of strong, committed teachers for years to come in the Mountain State. This cohort is just the beginning, and it’s certainly a bright one.”

“I am pleased to congratulate the inaugural class of Underwood-Smith Teaching Scholars. Their interest in and commitment to education is commendable, and I know this scholarship is paving the way to build capacity among our teacher ranks,” West Virginia Superintendent of Schools W. Clayton Burch said in the release. “The challenges we face in filling content areas such as math, science and special education are very real. Programs such as this will assist us to meet the demand with a highly qualified corps of new teachers.”

This program — the first in the state to be open to a national applicant pool — is designed to help West Virginia address ongoing teacher shortages in the fields of math, science, special education and elementary education. Recipients commit to teaching in one of these high-demand fields in West Virginia for at least five years after graduation.

To give students the greatest chance at success, each is paired with a practicing classroom teacher mentor, who will provide guidance throughout their college careers.

A video highlighting the scholars can be found on YouTube, and their photos are available at underwoodsmith.org/2020-scholars/.

A virtual celebration of the scholars will be held on Wednesday, July 29 at 2:00 p.m. on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/HEPCMediaCenter/.

For rising high school seniors who want to become a teacher in West Virginia, applications open on July 15, 2020 for the 2021 cohort. Visit underwoodsmith.org for more information. The Underwood-Smith award is stackable with other forms of financial aid. West Virginia residents who receive the PROMISE Scholarship as well ($4,750 per year) receive nearly $15,000 per year to help pay for college.