The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty
~ Winston Churchill

META Program

META is a partnership among Chesterfield County Public Schools, Hanover County Public Schools, Henrico County Public Schools, Richmond Public Schools, and Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) School of Education. Established in 2001, META's mission is to enhance teaching quality in the metro-Richmond area by identifying needs, opportunities, and resources for strategic professional development with the goal of improving student learning by improving the preparation, effectiveness, and retention of high-quality teachers. The META Planning Council consists of the staff development directors or other designated representatives from partner school divisions, the VCU Clinical Faculty Coordinator, the Chair of the VCU Department of Teaching and Learning, and the director of the VCU Center for Teacher Leadership.

Since 2001, The Center for Teacher Leadership (CTL) has secured more than $13 million dollars to advance the work of the META partnership.

Current META Projects Include:

National Board Candidate Support Program

A program for teachers seeking National Board Certification. Conducted by the Center for Teacher Leadership (CTL) at the VCU School of Education, the program provides teachers in the META school divisions with structured opportunities to clarify each aspect of the certification process and a network of support as they strive to meet the highest standards established for the profession. CTL also supports a National Board Candidate Support Listserv where candidates can network with other candidates and National Board Certified Teachers across the state.

VCU Clinical Faculty Program

The VCU Clinical Faculty Program identifies exemplary K-12 teachers who want to work with VCU pre-service teachers and provides them with professional development to become effective mentors. To earn the Clinical Faculty designation, teachers in the META divisions must submit a written application, complete five modules of training, and submit a portfolio, including a video or audio of a coaching session, to demonstrate their skill as a coach.

The Clinical Faculty training is based on the Santa Cruz New Teacher Center mentor teacher training. The Center for Teacher Leadership (CTL) at VCU School of Education is one of only two national training sites licensed to conduct this highly successful and widely recognized mentoring system.

LSEE Major

The Liberal Studies in Elementary Education (LSEE) major offers a strong liberal studies curriculum that targets core knowledge across the four major subject areas represented in Virginia’s Standards of Learning (mathematics, sciences, social studies, and language arts/communication) while also providing a university-level skill set and knowledge base. Throughout the undergraduate program, contact with area schools and young learners is programmed into service and experiential learning venues. The VCU College of Humanities and Sciences recognizes it as a priority degree program with its own director and budget.


A program designed for instructional assistants with at least a bachelor’s degree to earn a Virginia collegiate (K-12) professional license in special education, general curriculum. The alternative licensure program is now known at the META Special Education Program for Instructional Assistants (META-SEPIA). Instituted in 2002, the program was revised in 2008 to meet VDOE licensure regulations for special education, general curriculum and expanded to include paraprofessionals from other Region 1 divisions.


Completed Projects:

o Beginning Teacher Advisor (BTA) Program:

Completed in 2010 This project was based on the Santa Cruz New Teacher Center mentoring model, the BTA Program provided intensive, weekly support for two years to 347 beginning teachers in 62 high-need schools in the META school divisions. Santa Cruz-trained BTAs (full-time mentors) collected observation data and used formative assessment tools to help beginning teachers analyze their practice. The model is based on the belief that learning to teach is a career-long developmental process that involves a continuous cycle of planning, teaching, and reflecting. Evaluation of the program included an experimental design testing the effectiveness of the BTA Program vs. traditional mentoring models.

Our research indicates six key components that must be present in order to ensure a high quality induction program:

  • A highly competitive selection process. Mentors are carefully selected using a clear, open process which carefully articulates the mentor role. Stakeholders in the process include district, site, and university personnel.
  • High quality training. A summer orientation and ongoing Santa Cruz Mentor Trainings in years one and two combine with a summer seminar to provide strong support for new mentors.
  • Ongoing professional support. Mentors participate in a learning community called Friday Forum that supports their use of formative assessment tools and mentoring protocols.
  • Time to coach. Mentors need time for intensive coaching with each beginning teacher. The focus for this collaborative partnership is on improving instruction.
  • Formative assessment tools. The New Teacher Center Formative Assessment system includes a set of mentoring tools and protocols to guide the mentor and beginning teacher in gathering and analyzing data of practice in order to improve classroom instruction and student achievement.
  • Confidentiality. A strong, trusting relationship is a critical element in a successful collaborative partnership, allowing the mentor and new teacher to focus on advancing the classroom teacher's practice and improving student achievement.

High-Q Para Program:

Completed in 2005 was a program to assist instructional aides in the META divisions to meet the federal “highly qualified” definition. 500 paraprofessionals were pre-tested and provided either a refresher or in-depth course to prepare them to pass the ParaPro examination.

Program Award: In 2009, META received the very first Dr. Shirley S. Schwartz Urban Education Impact Award. This award is given annually by the Council of Great City Schools and the Council of Great City Colleges of Education to recognize the partnership with the greatest impact on urban education.

Back to CTL Home Page

leading from the classroom