The Virginia Department of Education is allocating $760,000 from federal relief funds to help veterans and retired military personnel start their second careers as teachers.
The money will support the Troops to Teachers Virginia Center, which helps “break down barriers” for service members who hope to become teachers.
“We’re like a clearinghouse of information,” said Karen Hogue, interim director of Troops to Teachers Virginia. “We help these service members who are either transitioning out of the military, or are already out, identify the different ways to become a licensed teacher.”
The funding will be used to help recruit and retain service members in the teaching field. It will do things like reimburse veterans for test fees to become licensed teachers and pay for signing bonuses for high needs school divisions, which the state will identify at a later date, Hogue said.
Since Troops to Teachers Virginia was introduced in 2017, the center has helped approximately 2,500 service members on their “path to licensure.” This could mean anything from offering financial assistance to giving guidance on the myriad routes to becoming a teacher.
Of those who have been helped so far, at least 180 are teaching in Virginia classrooms. Another 30 veterans have earned licenses and are seeking teaching positions.
Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s executive directive last September seeks to address widespread teaching shortages across the state by focusing on recruitment and retention efforts. Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow said in a press release the directive acknowledges there is “no single solution” to this problem.
“But stepping up our efforts to enlist veterans into our teaching force is a key part of our overall strategy,” Balow said in a press release. “I am so grateful for all of the veterans who have accepted this new mission and for the value they are bringing to our communities and classrooms.”
Kelsey Kendall, firstname.lastname@example.org
Protesters gathered Saturday night in downtown Norfolk to call for justice for Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man who was killed by five Memphis police officers earlier this month.
The protest was one of many that materialized across the nation after Memphis police released body camera video on Friday of the beating that would lead to Nichols’ death.
Eight people gathered in front of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial at the intersection of Brambleton Avenue and Church Street at 7:57 p.m. The protest was organized by BLM757, a local grassroots chapter of the Black Lives Matter organization.
“My heart is full of sadness for Tyre’s family,” said Charné Tate Lawson, one of the attendees. “I hope everyone can come together in unity and peace to make a difference.”
The protest called out police brutality across the nation, as well as violence that has occurred in Hampton Roads.
“Ultimately, I don’t feel like there’s been a lot of change because we’re still having to protest this now,” said JaPharii Jones, a leader of the protest.
Protesters called for greater police accountability and transparency. Speeches mentioned India Kager, a Black woman who was killed by a SWAT team in 2015. They also mentioned William Chapman II, a Black man who was killed by Portsmouth police in 2015.
What the protest lacked in attendance, it made up for in presence. After speeches into a bullhorn at MLK monument, the group marched down Brambleton, chanting. Police cars followed the group and drove ahead. Police also blocked off intersecting roadways, ensuring a clear path for the march.
A Norfolk police spokesperson didn’t respond to comment Sunday morning about the size of crowds they were expecting.
Earl Lewis, a marcher, has been involved with movements for justice since 2015 when Chapman, his cousin, was killed. He looked at the surrounding police cars with approval.
“They’re supposed to work for us,” Lewis said. “It’s about our First Amendment rights. This is a peace rally, not a protest. We don’t want negativity. We want people who are passionate about peace.”
The march turned onto Granby Street. In front of the federal courthouse, Jones called for an end to qualified immunity, the policy that protects police officers from individual liability.
Continuing down Granby, the march passed pedestrians, street musicians and restaurant patrons out on a Saturday night. Some looked on impassively. Others came out of restaurants and held fists in the air in solidarity. One man shouted from his apartment window, telling the group to shut up and get out of the street.
Between the roads blocked off, the bullhorns, and the chants — the group made itself conspicuous.
The protest called out more than police brutality from the past several years. Jones addressed racism that has proliferated throughout history.
“Virginia is the birthplace of slavery, from when enslaved Africans were brought to Point Comfort in 1619,” Jones said. “Virginia is the birthplace of the Confederacy. Racism started here. It needs to end here.”
Addressing the low attendance at Saturday night’s protest, Lewis said, “I really think the community is hurting. Trust in policing in the Black community changed instantly. We had faith that African American police were on our side at least, and that changed.”
“This was five bullies jumping on one person. People are shook, hurt to no end. Who do you trust now?” Lewis said.
Regarding the race of the police officers who beat Nichols, Jones said, “Black and white doesn’t matter. It’s a about the person that’s wearing the uniform and their integrity.”
The protest looped downtown and returned to the MLK Memorial. There, Lewis stood in the light of the memorial to pray.
“If you don’t do nothing else, America,” he said, “it’s time for change.”
Lewis saw the return to the King Memorial during the march as symbolic.
“We go and we come back,” he said. “We didn’t deviate from the route, we turned back around and came back to him. If we go back to where Martin Luther King left us as a nation, then we have to move forward from there.”
The Hampton chapter of the NAACP held a rally outside City Hall on Sunday afternoon to call for police reform following the release of police body cam footage showing the arrest and fatal beating of Tyre Nichols by officers in Memphis.
People across the country took to the streets calling for justice for Nichols and police reform. In Norfolk, a small group of protesters with Black Lives Matter 757 marched through downtown Saturday night, stopping to pray at a memorial for Martin Luther King Jr. and speak about the issue on the steps of the Walter E. Hoffman United States Courthouse.
About 40 people formed a semicircle around the entrance to City Hall in Hampton, enduring bracing winds for what at times became more town hall than rally. Speakers included Police Chief Mark Talbot, U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Newport News, and young activists associated with the local NAACP.
Gaylene Kanoyton, president of the Hampton NAACP, said the gathering was a chance to highlight the importance of voting and passing legislation in the fight against police brutality. She said members want Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, echoing Nichols’ family, and wants Virginia’s General Assembly to pass other “sensible police reform” measures which would allocate funds to train officers in de-escalation tactics, as well as in diversity, equity and inclusion.
“We can come up with all the solutions in the world but everything comes down to the laws,” Kanoyton said in an interview. “That’s what it boils down to: funding police — not defunding — funding the police for training.”
The video shows Nichols, 29, a father of a 4-year-old son who worked for FedEx in Memphis and who was an avid skateboarder and photographer, being shocked with a stun gun, pepper-sprayed, kicked, punched and beaten with a baton following a traffic stop on Jan. 7. Police said the stop was prompted by reckless driving. He died three days later. Five officers who were involved in his arrest were fired and indicted on charges including second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression, according to NPR.
Talbot said he had lost track of how many times he’d been asked to speak about a viral video of a Black man being killed by police, and said doing it again feels “futile.” The chief compared Nichols to Emmett Till, saying that while no one saw the video of what was done to him, Till’s death mobilized the country. Talbot said thousands of people should have been in attendance on Sunday.
“Each one of these viral videos seems to look the same … somebody who is completed vulnerable isn’t protected and isn’t served,” Talbot said.
He said what happened in Memphis won’t in Hampton.
“I can promise you this, as the police chief here, that will never be us,” Talbot said. “We will stand with you. We will serve. You will not have a criminal in a police uniform in this city.”
When Scott got the microphone, several people began to express outrage at the political barriers to passing the George Floyd Justice Act. He suggested the reason thousands didn’t attend was because they trust Talbot “to do the right thing.”
That prompted Joyce Harris of Hampton to disagree, saying if more don’t attend such events, these kinds of police killings will continue.
Scott brought Harris to the center of the circle to speak her mind.
“I don’t need you political people out here doing anything but the right thing when it comes to the people. Yes, we are a community — start treating us like a community!” Harris said. “Back in the day they boycotted, they hit them where it hurts (in their pockets) … We don’t support one another like that and it’s time to stand up or we’re going to be out here again.”
“That’s why you don’t see people out here, because it’s becoming commonplace,” she continued.
Scott urged people to register to vote and express frustration that the Floyd Act failed in the Senate. The congressman later spoke with Harris and another man who raised similar concerns. In an interview, Scott said they were frustrated at political leadership’s failure to pass the bill, and “so am I.”
“(Republicans) show no willingness to support police reform, no willingness to support voting rights — I think their votes are predictable,” Scott said. “I think we have a lot of progress to be made if we pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act … We have national standards and that kind of behavior (shown by the Memphis officers who arrested Nichols) would clearly not be consistent with any kind of national standards.”
Kennedy Hood, 17, the president of the Hampton Branch NAACP Youth Council, said the swift arrest and firing of five of the officers involved in Nichols’ arrest is positive, but those officers being allowed bond is a “step backwards.” Four of the five officers were released after posting bond.
“If we don’t get accountability now, this will continue,” Hood said. “It shouldn’t be a surprise when they do get charged, it should happen if you’re murdering people.”
Other Hampton Roads leaders shared their thoughts after watching the video. Virginia Beach Police Chief Paul Neudigate issued a statement saying he is “outraged, heartbroken, and disappointed,” and said the video shows “an unspeakable and needless tragedy.” He added that his disappointment stems from the specter of police brutality that has again cast doubt over policing, and said the actions of those officers doesn’t represent the entire profession.
“It is important that you hear from me that the Virginia Beach Police Department does not condone this behavior,” Neudigate said. “We are committed to providing a safe community for all residents and visitors to our beautiful city.”
Gavin Stone, 757-712-4806, email@example.com