SCC's Lateral Entry Program Helps Ease Teacher Shortage
The national, state and local shortage of teachers has spawned creative ways to attract qualified individuals to the education profession.
The career path in which one majors in education and becomes a teacher is the tried-and-true method, but colleges and universities in North Carolina are not producing enough teachers to fill the growing demand.
An alternate path is the method of lateral entry. That is when a person in a profession desires to change careers and become an educator in his or her field of expertise.
Prospective teachers must hold a bachelor's or higher degree, with a minimum grade point average of 2.5. They become employed as a teacher by the local school system and teach while working toward becoming certified by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.
Sandhills Community College offers such a Lateral Entry Teacher Education program. Joan Frye, coordinator of the program, said that the college has seen 30 students go into teaching through the program since its inception a year ago. She believes that there are many good opportunities for those seeking employment in education, and that these students make very good, effective teachers.
"Each student has his or her own education plan that is formulated by the local school system and a regional licensing coordinator," Frye said. "Our courses help fulfill the requirements of their plan. They take Sandhills courses and those offered on the Pinehurst campus through several universities."
"We are committed to making sure the lateral entry teacher has the opportunity to meet all the requirements of their plan within three years," said Rick Swanson, dean of instruction at Sandhills Community College. "One of the greatest advantages is that the courses can be taken locally. We have a great relationship with the universities, and the four-year schools bring the faculty members to our campus to teach the courses we do not offer. A good number of courses can be taken over the Internet as well."
Sandhills also serves those who desire to go into education by offering pre-major programs that allow students to take the first two years in Pinehurst and seamlessly transfer to a four-year institution. St. Andrews Presbyterian College offers an elementary education degree where courses can be taken on the Pinehurst campus. UNC-Pembroke offers a master of arts degree in education in reading and in elementary education, and a master of school administration.
"There is a substantial savings when students take the courses at Sandhills. Not only savings in fuel cost associated with traveling to a distant university but the cost of our courses are much less," Frye said. "And our courses are offered at very convenient times."
Two examples of lateral entry teachers can be found at Southern Middle School. Jennifer Garner and Karen Clark teach science.
While employed with the Boys and Girls Club, Garner discovered that she enjoyed working with children, but left the position to take a job that offered more money.
"Instead of trusting my heart and continuing to work with children, I accepted a job that paid more," she said. "I was a patient relations specialist at Cape Fear Valley Hospital and Highsmith-Rainey Hospital in Fayetteville. Lack of time with my husband and daughter made me miserable, so I did some soul-searching."
An opening became available at Southern Middle, and Garner applied for the position. She now teaches sixth-grade science during the day and is working toward her teaching certificate at Sandhills in the evening.
"I love the hugs and smiles each morning," Garner said. "Even if I have had to show a student tough love the day before, they return ready to begin new each morning. I love the bonds that develop. It is also satisfying to see them progress throughout the year.
"One of the most fulfilling things to happen so far is when over 20 of my students took responsibility for their own grades and took me up on my offer to tutor after school."
Garner said the Lateral Entry Program allows a person who may have missed his or her calling to explore the teaching profession.
"There is no other career that has the opportunity to make such a profound difference in the lives of so many," she said. "It is certainly rewarding."
Clark said, "The students learn new things each and every day. It is exciting to see learning occur in the class and even beyond the classroom walls. The students may learn something new about social skills or organizational skills, or perhaps they simply learn how much someone really cares about them. Delivering education is a lot like delivering health care, rewards are realized everyday."
Frye added, "Lateral entry teaching is a very efficient way to complete the required courses, allowing teachers to spend more time on their classroom responsibilities and not on their own studies."
Frye said there are three particularly critical subject areas where teachers are most desperately needed in Moore County. These are math, science and exceptional education. Those seeking employment through the lateral entry program may need to take a state-required Praxis test before being considered for employment, especially those in exceptional education.
Anyone needing more information about the Lateral Entry program at Sandhills can contact Frye at (910) 6393166 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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