Jump Start: Program Helps 'Cultivate' Teachers
Eleven Southern Middle School students are getting a jump-start in the field of teaching.
"Cultivating Teachers with a Promise," a new joint effort between the Moore County public schools, Sandhills Comm-unity College, North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, is giving these aspiring educators a firsthand look at the ins and outs of a teaching career. Through instruction and visitation to local schools, as well as SCC and UNCP, the students are being exposed to a variety of different teaching settings and situations. The program is free of charge to the students.
"We want the student to come out of this with a positive, great experience," said Cynthia Bell of the school system. "This has been a great collaborative effort."
The students were selected to participate through an application process. Three teachers and three teaching assistants, along with Bell, representatives from SCC and the school system, are charged with running the program.
The five-day program, which wrapped up with a closing banquet Thursday evening, involves class work and homework.
On-site visits to the schools allow the students to observe teachers in a classroom setting and assist with different tasks. The college visits are designed to inform them about picking the right type of college for them and their goals.
The "promise" displayed in the title of the program refers to SCC's commitment to providing financial aid to students if they need it upon their application to the college.
Bell said the ultimate aim of the program will give the students a better idea of what field of teaching they want to pursue. She added that even if students decide that teaching is not the right career path after the program is over, then the staff's efforts have still been successful.
Several of these motivated young people who shadowed teachers at Southern Pines Primary last Tuesday seemed to be committed to a future in education.
Kendrick McRae said the program has been a wonderful experience and loves "doing it all."
"It's been going great," McRae said. "I like to help children."
McRae also mentioned that he had fun meeting SCC President John Dempsey, whom he described as being "like a friend from school."
McRae said he hopes to be a music teacher one day. He sings and plays the saxophone, keyboard and percussion. He even finds time in his busy schedule to cheer on the Carolina Panthers.
Being the only guy in a program with 10 girls isn't a bad perk either.
Stephanie Macias and Katie Hayes were assisting a class together.
"It's a great way to help kids," said Macias, who wants to teach social studies, English or Spanish. "I want to help kids learn faster."
Hayes, who wants to teach first or second grade, agreed with Macias. She is drawing on her own personal experiences as inspiration.
"I had trouble in school, and I want to help," Hayes said.
Dwlce Acosta, who wants to teach Spanish or another foreign language, said she wasn't sure if she wanted to be a teacher at first. However, the program has confirmed that this is the right career path for her.
"The program is wonderful," Acosta said. "It inspires us to do better."
Jada Kelly, who wants to teach math at the high school level, said the program has been fantastic. She said she has learned there is more to teaching than helping kids be familiar with a certain subject.
"I want to give young people the opportunity to become successful in life," Kelly said.
Brietta Reaves, on the other hand, is taking a bit of a different approach to the program, using it to observe how kids interact with one another and scout out the prospects of going into counseling. She is considering working with kids who have parents or family members with drug-abuse problems.
"My uncle (who worked as a counselor) and many other people have inspired me to do this," Reaves said.
Bell and the staff have been impressed with the students. Bell said that she has been "floored" by some of the thoughtful responses ideas they have shared during the classroom meetings and discussions. She also mentioned a challenge from school Superintendent Susan Purser to the students to write down whatever insights and reflections they may have.
Bell hopes to continue to grow the program by expanding it to all other middle schools in the county. The program could also become a year-round commitment for the students who enroll. Bell has been talking with Southern Middle about creating a club that will provide information about teaching to the students as well as help them with their college search. This year's alumni could also be used to help out with future programs.
Bell has been pleased with the feedback from parents and the community and is ready to keep
"We want to build on our success," Bell said. "We are excited about the prospects for the future."
Contact John Krahnert III at 693-2473 or by e-mail at email@example.com
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