Program aims to get more teachers in North Carolina classrooms

North Carolina News

GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — The need for teachers is growing as students head back to class in North Carolina. There are anywhere from a dozen to more than 100 teacher vacancies in school districts across the Triad.

“It continues to be a challenge,” said Randy Penfield, the dean of the UNC Greensboro School of Education. “It’s been for a while and for us we really focus on improving the pipelines into the teaching profession.”

A new agreement between the University of North Carolina System and North Carolina Community Colleges is aimed to fulfill the needs in the classroom.

The agreement makes the transfer process for teaching students from community colleges to universities like UNCG smoother and faster.

“The community college to university transition can be really difficult for some students,” said Andrew Hamilton, associate vice provost for student success and dean of undergraduate studies at UNC Greensboro. “We’re doing all that work as one seamless package across all four years of enrollment for students who start in community college.”

Hamilton said it cuts down on barriers for future teachers transferring from a community college to a university teacher preparation program.

“We reach a different group of students than the universities reach,” said Beth Pitonzo, the senior vice president of instruction at Guilford Technical Community College. “We’re going to be able to provide more people into their pipelines.”

Pitonzo said they hope to fill the teaching pipeline with more diverse, first-generation, and rural students.

“Rural communities through this pathway will be able to grow their own teachers,” Hamilton said. “It’s hard for rural communities to recruit teachers who don’t come from those communities, so this will certainly help with that.”

Students can register in either associate in arts in teacher preparation or associate in science in teacher preparation at 52 community colleges across the state including GTCC.

“Universities coming together and agreeing on what they would accept from the two-year institutions and that really helps our community college students have some confidence in starting with us,” Pitonzo said.

Students who are registered must complete 60 semester hours, have a 2.7 GPA and make all Cs or greater in classes during the two years at a community college.

“I think it was a good decision for me to transfer because community college saved me a lot of money in the process,” said Paloma Nogueira, a UNCG transfer student.

Students in the pathway won’t lose class credit or have to redo courses at a university.

It’s something current UNCG transfer students told FOX8 will be helpful to graduate quicker and in less debt.

“I think one of the challenges was identifying which credits didn’t carry over,” said Gregory Chanel, a UNCG transfer student.

“I didn’t take all the courses that I probably should’ve in community college,” Nogueira said. “So I had to take a couple of extra courses to make up for that here.”

There are 14 students at GTCC on the way to becoming the first in the pathway.

“This is a way for students from all backgrounds and all communities who want to be teachers to make that identification and pathway known and get on the correct path towards completion of those requirements,” Hamilton said.

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