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Underwood-Smith Teaching Scholars

The Underwood-Smith Teaching Scholars Program is a competitive scholarship for recent high school graduates with a passion for teaching and a history of high academic achievement, community service, and active involvement in extracurricular activities while in high school. Recipients will receive $10,000 per year for up to four years (up to the cost of tuition and fees, housing and food, and other approved educational expenses). In exchange, Underwood-Smith Teaching Scholars must agree to teach in a West Virginia public school in an area of critical need (math, science, elementary education or special education) for a period of five years after graduating from college.

The scholarship may be used at any eligible West Virginia public or private, non-profit college or university offering West Virginia Board of Education-approved teacher preparation programs in math, science, elementary education, or special education. Each year, we will accept up to 25 new Underwood-Smith Teaching Scholars from a national applicant pool. To monitor the progress of your application and requirements, you must create a WVSAM Account.

The application opens July 15 annually with a December 31st deadline.

Criteria to Apply

Students must complete the preliminary application before December 31. You must also complete the FAFSA.

  • High school senior or recent high school graduate with plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in an approved teacher preparation program in math, science, elementary education or special education at an eligible West Virginia institution;
  • Has never been enrolled as a degree-seeking student at college or university;
  • Achieved a cumulative high school grade point average of at least 3.25 on 4.0 scale, or an equivalent grade point average based on an individual school district’s grading policy;
  • Earned minimum ACT scores of 21 in math and 18 in English, or minimum SAT scores of 530 in math and 480 in English;
  • Must be a United States citizen or hold a valid Employment Authorization Document (EAD), or work permit, issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office; and
  • Willing to teach in a West Virginia public school for five years after college graduation in the fields of math, science, elementary education, or special education. Applicants are NOT required to be residents of the state of West Virginia; and
  • Must be willing to attend the award banquet and Student Success Summit event in Charleston, WV, in late July. Lodging costs will be paid by the Higher Education Policy Commission for Underwood-Smith Teaching Scholars.

Students who meet the pre-qualification applications requirements will be invited to compete in round two.  If you are then a finalist selected from round two, you will submit a 3-5 minute video highlighting past experiences or future ambitions that have driven you to a career as a professional educator. Students are typically notified about their eligibility in March.

Criteria for Grant to Pay

Students must be enrolled full-time in an approved teacher preparation program and maintain satisfactory academic progress with a cumulative college grade point average of 3.0.

Renewal Criteria

Continue your pursuit in obtaining your degree in a teacher preparation program and maintain a 3.0 GPA.