Many of the teachers work in the hard-to-staff fields of special education, mathematics, or English as a second language.
The organization typically works in inner cities and rural counties, but a spokeswoman said it would not preclude the idea of working in a reputable suburban district that wants help to reduce the achievement gap in poor neighborhood schools.
The Teach for America Act, a key part of Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell’s education reform agenda, provides a two-year provisional license for the young recruits so they can attain the course work in pedagogy and pass the tests that they need to get a five-year renewable license while they are working in the classroom.
According to the new law, school districts could hire teachers as early as July 1, but Teach for America said it will probably take more than a year to develop partnerships. It could potentially move into Northern Virginia sooner by expanding its regional office in the District.
But it is more likely to make initial inroads into southwestern Virginia, where talented teachers are more scarce, by expanding the region served by the the organization’s Appalachian office, based in Hazard, Ky. Conversations are underway for next school year, Teach for America officials said, but they have not made any firm agreements.
It will take longer to reach interested districts in central or eastern Virginia because the organization will need to set up a new regional office to recruit and support of 30 to 50 teachers, at a cost of $3 million to $4 million.
Most of the money would be raised locally from foundations, businesses and individuals. The organization also typically asks partnering school districts to pay $3,000 to $5,000 per teacher in addition to the teacher salaries.
Eventually, Virginia politicians and reform advocates say they hope to reverse an outflow of talented teachers. About 300 corps members who are from Virginia or who graduated from a Virginia college are working elsewhere.
“If the demand is there, we could keep a lot of homegrown talent in Virginia,” said Shannon Blankenship, a national vice president of Teach for America.