Seal of the Governor
For Immediate Release: November 15, 2023
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Christian Martinez, |Virginia Department of Education Contact: Todd Reid Email:

Governor Glenn Youngkin Celebrates Establishment of Two More Lab Schools in Virginia

RICHMOND, VA — The Virginia Board of Education today approved two new lab schools, Germanna Community College’s Future Educators Academy and University of Mary Washington’s Academy of Technology and Innovation. With three approved lab schools among 20 lab school applicants across the Commonwealth, Virginia is becoming a top national leader in lab school development. 

Governor Youngkin has made lab schools a top priority and called on the General Assembly to allocate funding for new lab schools. After securing $100 million for this initiative, today’s unanimous vote further delivers on the promises made. 

“I’m thrilled by the continued progress we’re seeing in lab school development across the Commonwealth. Lab schools are a critical part of restoring excellence in the Commonwealth’s education system,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “This is the first step in giving parents new options for their kids to learn in innovative and creative ways and break the status quo of a one-size-fits all education.” 

The Board unanimously approved of Germanna Community College’s Future Educators Academy. FEA is an innovative model in collaboration with Germanna Community College, Laurel Ridge Community College, and James Madison University focused on an acceleration track for the next generation of high-quality teachers in the region. This lab school reinvigorates the current teacher cadre with innovative opportunities through observations and hands-on practicums and streamlines the pathway to teacher licensure by prioritizing an associate’s degree in high school and allowing students to complete their Bachelor’s degree in as little as two years after high school graduation. 

The Board also unanimously approved of University of Mary Washington’s Academy of Technology and Innovation. This lab school will focus on the reciprocal relationship between computer and data science fields, exploring the intersection and distinctions across the fields through an interdisciplinary curricular approach. Students will participate in robust, hands-on learning experiences that will involve project-based learning, performance-based assessment, and hands-on service-learning opportunities. 

The first lab school, VCU x CodeRVA, was unanimously approved by the Virginia Board of Education in July 2023. 

“These two lab schools represent communities coming together to meet the needs not only of our students but of the Commonwealth,”said Secretary of Education Aimee Guidera. “Throughout the Commonwealth, community colleges, universities, school divisions, employers and community partners are developing creative education models to ensure our students are prepared for success in life beyond the school walls and in our most in demand jobs.”  

“We are excited to see the momentum for innovation continue,”said Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Lisa Coons. "These lab schools show the possibilities for great alternative programs to help every child find their passion and explore meaningful pathways after graduation." 

The Virginia Department of Education is working with 20 lab school higher education partners toward 2024 openings. Find more information on lab schools here

University of Mary Washington Academy of Technology and Innovation 

The Academy of Technology and Innovation (ATI) at UMW will focus on combining an emphasis on computer and data science fields with innovative, interdisciplinary teaching practices and learning experiences for high school students. The lab school will partner with Stafford County Public Schools as well as the four other school divisions in Planning District 16, to include the school divisions of Caroline County, King George County, Fredericksburg City, and Spotsylvania County. Four of the five counties have authorized an initial commitment and nominated a board member to the governing board for the lab school. 

UMW will leverage all three of its colleges to support the efforts of the lab school, providing content experts from the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Business to consult on the development of curricular resources and field experiences in partnership with the College of Education and Stafford Schools. 

Germanna Community College Future Educators Academy  

Future Educators Academy (FEA) is an innovative early college academy that focuses on preparing tomorrow’s early and special education teachers in Culpeper, Orange, Madison, Rappahannock, Clarke, Fauquier, Frederick, Page, Shenandoah, and Warren counties and the City of Winchester. FEA is a collaboration among these school divisions, Germanna Community College, Laurel Ridge Community College, and James Madison University with one shared goal: provide high-quality, accelerated teacher education to produce exceptional teachers for the region. 

Students in FEA will complete an associate degree while concurrently completing the requirements designated in the profile of a Virginia graduate to complete an advanced studies diploma. While the FEA curriculum is rigorous and accelerated, the Academy is designed to be accessible to all students who have a passion for teaching, including at-risk student groups and students with pandemic-related learning loss. Tutoring, intensive advising, and substantial hands-on learning create the support network necessary to bolster enrolled students from admission to graduation. 

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