Seal of the Governor
For Immediate Release: January 25, 2024
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Christian Martinez,

Governor Glenn Youngkin Applauds Approval of James Madison University's Innovation and Career Lab School

RICHMOND, VA – The Virginia Board of Education today approved James Madison University’s Lab School for Innovation and Career Exploration in partnership with Blue Ridge Community College and Rockingham County public schools. The lab school will cultivate innovation, provide career exposure to students, and serve as a preprofessional teacher education development catalyst that bolsters JMU’s teacher preparation and licensure efforts.  

“The approval of James Madison University’s Lab School is another exciting development in lab school progress across the Commonwealth. The JMU, Blue Ridge Community College, and Rockingham County Public Schools dual enrollment partnership will help foster innovative and creative education opportunities for students in the area,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “Through our continued commitment to foster lab schools across the Commonwealth, we will enable all Virginia students to receive a world class and dynamic education.”

Governor Youngkin has made lab schools a top priority and secured $100 million in General Assembly allocated funding for this initiative. 

“This is a fantastic example of higher education, community partners, K-12 public schools, and employers coming together to develop an innovative model that provides a new learning environment for kids and families in the region and meet student needs,” said Secretary of Education Aimee Guidera. “JMU’s Lab School for Innovation and Career Exploration model is designed to create multiple clear pathways for the jobs of today and the future.”  

“The benefits for teacher development from JMU’s Lab School are going to be significant,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Lisa Coons. “The innovative interdisciplinary model the school will be using is an exciting opportunity and will help educators, industry, and students explore best practices in teaching and learning.” 

“The vision of the Lab School is to become an innovation hub for career exploration and workforce development through interdisciplinary, problem-focused application of solving community needs, leading to college and career readiness,” said JMU President Jonathan R. Alger. “We look forward to working with our partners to transcend traditional academic confines to greatly enhance student learning and teaching.”  

“The Lab School for Innovation & Career Exploration will become the premier innovation hub for research and development in teaching, learning and leadership,” said Dean of the JMU College of Education Dr. Mark L’Esperance. “It will create frameworks of support for teachers and principals to maximize their efficacy and growth while contributing to the education field through peer-reviewed publications, studies and presentations of evidence-based findings from its implementation.”  

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

James Madison University’s Innovation and Career Exploration Lab School 

The proposed lab school named “JMU Lab School for Innovation and Career Exploration” is an innovative interdisciplinary lab school model that focuses on providing career exposure to students through real-world problem solving in collaboration with higher education professionals, preservice college students, and industry experts. Students remain enrolled in their home school division (Rockingham County Public Schools) while being provided with several options to engage in career exploration, including dual enrollment opportunities at Blue Ridge Community College, on-site coursework on campus at JMU, or Massanutten Technical Center. The JMU Lab School for Innovation and Career Exploration will provide a space for innovation where educators, industry, and pre-service professionals can explore best practices in teaching and learning. Students will engage in coursework aligned with personal interest and regional market demand industry and business, streamlining the pipeline for high-wage, high-skill, high demand employment in the region served by the Lab School.  

Find more information on Lab Schools here

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