Central Carolina Community College Part of Teacher Program
A unique partnership between N.C. State University's College of Education and Central Carolina Community College in Sanford can help ease the critical shortage of qualified teachers in the state.
Starting in June, the university's College of Education and the community college's Lee County campus will offer NC TEACH (North Carolina Teachers of Excellence for All Children), a rigorous alternative teacher preparation program for mid-career professionals interested in changing careers and moving into education as fully licensed teachers.
The goal is to help meet the need for licensed teachers in the state's classrooms. According to the state Department of Public Instruction, North Carolina needs about 11,000 new teachers each year, but traditional education programs produce only about 3,500, with just 2,300 of those staying in North Carolina to teach.
Lateral entry teachers -- those entering teaching from another career -- fill much of the gap between the number of positions available and licensed teachers to fill them. Last year, 53 percent of all new teachers hired in North Carolina were lateral entry. NC TEACH was created by the state legislature in 2000 to train lateral entry teachers for full state licensure.
The NCSU-CCCC program is targeting mid-career professionals, such as scientists, business people and retired military. The area to be served is Lee, Harnett, Chatham and Moore counties, though people can attend from any area.
A standard university program to become a fully licensed teacher can take up to three years. The NC TEACH program shortens that time to less than a year. In addition, if someone in the NCSU-CCCC program lacks a content-specific course for licensing, such as American history, it could be taken at one of the college's local campuses.
Graduates of the NCSU-CCCC program can receive a comprehensive teaching license in the areas of science, English or social studies. For example, a comprehensive license in science means that the licensee can teach biology, chemistry, physics and other science courses, Holley said.
In addition, they will be "highly qualified teachers," as defined by the federal No Child Left Behind, according to Dr. Danny Thomas, local program coordinator. The graduates will have three years to take the PRAXIS, the state's test for new teachers.
The NCSU-CCCC program is now recruiting potential students. The last day to apply is April 16. Interviews for acceptance begin in early May and summer institute classes start in June.
NCSU, unlike NC TEACH programs at other universities, brings its teacher training program to communities outside Raleigh, so mid-career professionals and current lateral entry teachers do not have to drive there for training. NCSU has had a program in Apex since 2004. This year, in addition to the CCCC partnership, programs are starting in Rocky Mount, and Fayetteville.
Classes are taught in the evening, so those enrolled do not have to quit their jobs to attend. Once a month, a training seminar is held at the university. The instructors, hired by NCSU, are lead teachers from local school districts with years of professional experience.
The CCCC partnership is the first one with a community college, according to Dr. Grant Holley, NCSU's alternative licensure director. Thomas, who was Lee County Schools assistant superintendent for personnel before his retirement in 2006, and Dr. John Slade, CCCC vice president of instruction, convinced Holley that CCCC's Lee County Campus was an excellent location to have an NC TEACH program. The local pool for prospective teachers through NC TEACH is large, they said, with the many professionals, as well as retired military personnel, in Lee, Harnett, Chatham and Moore counties.
"CCCC sees itself as a partner in education with both the public schools and the universities," said Dr. Matt Garrett, president of CCCC. "The shortage of teachers has a negative impact on our community, and the college is always interested in promoting education that will enhance life in our community. The universities have the primary role in preparing teachers, but when we saw the opportunity to let N.C. State use our campus to serve our local school systems, it was obviously the right thing to do. It should be a great collaboration between public school, community college, and university."
The university's NC TEACH program has an impressive track record. In its four years in existence, its graduates have an 80 percent retention rate as teachers, compared with 54 percent retention of teachers who receive their licenses through traditional university programs, Holley said.
"Our school district continues to increase the number of highly qualified teachers in its classrooms," said Dr. Jim McCormick, Lee County Schools Superintendent. "However, it is important that the school district be able to consider teacher candidates that do not yet have the necessary certifications, but do possess substantial preparation in certain content areas. Lateral entry teachers (are employed) with the understanding that they will participate in the NC TEACH program. The strong working relationship between North Carolina State University, Central Carolina Community College and the Lee County Schools provides opportunities for lateral entry teachers to meet the certification standards established through the federal legislation, No Child Left Behind."
NCSU and CCCC will hold an information session from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, March 15, in Room 304 in the Veterinary Medical Building at the CCCC Lee County Campus. The application deadline for the summer institute is April 16 and the application fee is $50. Institute classes will be held from about 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. four days a week during June and July. There is also some online class work.
For more information, to apply or to sign up for the information session, go to the N.C. State NC TEACH web site: http://ced.ncsu. edu/ncteach/. More information is also available from Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org
Katherine McDonald is a news and features writer for Central Carolina Community College.
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