PRINCETON, WV (WVNS)– A lack of teachers isn’t stopping one program from reaching out to students to get into education.

When you open the doors of many classrooms across West Virginia – you may notice something important is missing. No, it’s not text books, and not even students. It’s the teacher.

A growing teacher shortage is something the state is battling- and the pandemic only made matters worse. But why are qualified teachers choosing to leave?

“One, the pay. We’re nowhere near the pay is in other states.” Farmer said.

While qualified teachers are leaving the state for higher paying jobs elsewhere, state leaders decided to tackle the problem from a different direction. They’re targeting high schoolers.

“Dual credit. The second one is early entry where you’re still in high school but you come to Concord to take classes and the third is Grow Your Own.”

The Grow Your Own program made its way to the Mercer County Techincal Education Center in Princeton.

The instructor for the Grow Your Own program Les Farmer says it has many benefits to help juniors and seniors.

“It helps high schoolers for many different ways. For one, it gives them free college credit and they can earn many different credits for their Math or English. But it also helps their GPA,” Farmer said.

A student in the program would be on a 5.0 grading scale instead of the school’s 4.0 scale which is a big booster according to Farmer.

He said students can also rack up hours of student teaching used in college and needed for experience.

And seniors Madison Robison and Emma Furches are taking advantage of the program.

Robinson said she already has her plan for after high school.

“I plan to go to college at Concord after and finish my degree and go straight into teaching,” Robinson said.

Farmer said he encourages all students who may be interested in teaching to get involved with the program.

“If this was a class when I was in high school, it would save me a lot of time and a lot of money. They’re coming in here as high school juniors and leaving the class in two years as college sophomores,” Farmer said.

The Grow Your Program differs in every county. To find out how to join, speak with your school’s guidance counselor.