Piedmont schools partner with A&T program to attract teachers to rural counties

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There is a lot of competition among school systems to get qualified teachers in the classroom.

In rural counties, the challenge can be even more difficult.

Two Piedmont counties are getting help from a new partnership.

Stokes County Schools is one of the Piedmont school systems partnering with North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University for the North Carolina A&T Rural Teacher Residency Program.

Selected teacher candidates will get in-the-classroom training and will also work on earning a master of arts in teaching at the same time.

The program allows people without teaching certification, but applicable skills, to be prepared to teach in science, mathematics, elementary education and special education in a rural school system.

“We have a really hard time getting applicants for science, math [and] special education in particular,” said Johnna Cheek, principal at South Stokes High School.

Cheek has already had success with hiring lateral entry teachers.

“They don’t have the education background, but they have content level knowledge,” Cheek said.

One of those teachers is Katie Haymore.

Haymore is a biology and earth and environmental science teacher at the high school who started teaching in August.

After graduating college she landed a job, but discovered that was not the career path she wanted.

“I worked in a microbiology lab for about a year and I realized that wasn’t for me. I’m a people person,” she said.

Haymore has been looking for the right program to receive her teaching credentials.

She applied to the residency program.

Not only does it provide training and a degree in 18 months, scholarship funds are available as well.

The College of Education at North Carolina A&T State University was awarded a $3.6 million grant from the US Department of Education Teacher Quality Partnership.

“When you’re a teacher, you don’t have a big salary, so to have a grant like this is a godsend,” Haymore said.

“Hopefully this will excite people in wanting to come into education, especially those mid-career professionals who have a bachelor’s degree, but do not have the teaching certification,” said Melisa Jessup, executive director of human resources and public information officer for Stokes County Schools.

“This will allow them to come and teach full-time plus the grant covers a stipend for living expenses and tuition,” she said.

The Randolph County School System is also participating in this program.

Upon completing the program, candidates will fill openings in Stokes and Randolph counties.

The pre-screening application is due by March 10.

For more information on requirements and application details visit ncatresidency.org.