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Edgecombe to begin teacher training

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By Amelia Harper
Staff Writer

Sunday, February 19, 2017

TARBORO — With the help of motivated administrators and a welcome $2 million endowment, Edgecombe County Public Schools is converting the dream of creating “home-grown” teachers into reality with plans for a new “Scholar Teachers Program” that will begin next fall.

At Monday’s school board meeting, the Edgecombe County Board of Education approved a new initiative to provide students in Edgecombe County Public Schools with the option to enroll in what school administrators say is the most advanced teacher preparatory program available in Eastern North Carolina.

“This program will take the best and brightest students from across the county and help prepare and recruit them to serve in Edgecombe County schools,” said John Farrelly, superintendent of Edgecombe County Public Schools. “This is one of the programs we have started here that I could not be more proud of.”

The new Scholar Teachers Program will be based at Edgecombe Early College High School, but will be open to students from any high school in the school district. The program, which will be offered next year to rising juniors and a few seniors, will provide highly qualified students the opportunity to explore teaching as a career while also earning college credit that can be applied to a four-year college degree.

The Scholar Teachers Program is designed as a three-year cohort model that will include a focus on the themes of service learning, social justice and the power of place, which Edgecombe Early College High School Principal Matt Smith described as an understanding of the environment and culture unique to Edgecombe County. The program also will include four courses, called Teacher Cadet classes, which focus on developing the knowledge, skills and dispositions needed for highly effective classroom teachers and educational leaders.

In order to accomplish the goal of developing future teachers from within, Edgecombe County Public Schools will work with Edgecombe Community College for completion of all prerequisite courses and requirements for entry into the College of Education at a collaborative university such as East Carolina University.

However, the Scholar Teachers Program will not end at high school graduation. The program is designed to provide scholarship support for all qualifying Scholar Teachers Program graduates to help them complete their four-year education degree at an accredited college. Much like the former N.C. Teaching Fellows program that ended in 2015, students could receive these college scholarships in exchange for student teaching and teaching service in Edgecombe County Public Schools upon graduation. The details of the program, including the length of service, have not yet been established.

“The Scholar Teachers program will build our capacity in Edgecombe County to recruit highly qualified high school students into the teaching profession, support their personal and professional growth and employ and retain them in Edgecombe County upon graduation from college,” Farrelly said.

A few months ago, when Farrelly first broached this idea with school board members, the notion of funding college scholarships for the Scholar Teacher Program seemed to be a pipe dream. However, a recent $2 million dollar endowment to the school system could help make the dream a reality.

Farrelly told the school board that the identity of the donor could not yet be released according to the wishes of the family. However, the endowment has been designated for the use of graduating students in Edgecombe County and many graduates of the Scholar Teacher Program will likely be eligible for scholarships from the endowment, Farrelly said.

Farrelly was visibly moved as he spoke of the gratitude he felt to the anonymous donor.

“I had no idea how we could fund this,” Farrelly said. “But this program perfectly aligns with what this angel who has passed on wanted.”

Smith will be visiting traditional high schools in the school district this week to invite rising juniors and seniors to apply for the Teacher Scholars Program. More information, including applications, can be found on the Edgecombe Early College High School website.

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