RALEIGH — North Carolina has a new program to attract teachers.
TeachNC officially launched during an Education Cabinet meeting attended by myriad state and education officials.
The initiative aims to address critical teaching vacancies by boosting teacher recruitment and retention efforts through a statewide media campaign and a new website. It’s the result of a partnership among the Department of Public Instruction, nonprofit Best NC, and Teach.org, a nonprofit teacher recruitment organization. Grants from The Belk Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Coastal Credit Union, IBM, the John M Belk Endowment, and Microsoft help support TeachNC.
“As business leaders, we know that the talent in our organization is key to our success. The same is true for education in North Carolina; our teachers and other educators need to be recruited and valued like other high-skill professionals,” Walter McDowell, Best NC’s board chair, said.
Princess Brown, communications and engagement coordinator with Best NC, said in the meeting Wednesday that several factors contributed to the initiative. Critical vacancies in hard-to-staff schools and subjects, misperceptions of the teaching profession, and fragmented resources on licensure, educator preparation, and job openings all add to the need to recruit more teachers.
Gov. Roy Cooper, who chaired the Education Cabinet meeting, said people need only talk to superintendents across the state to realize teacher vacancies are a critical issue.
“They don’t have enough teachers, and some teachers are substitutes for an entire year,” Cooper said. “We have to attack this problem.”
TeachNC will target middle school and high school students, as well as college students looking to switch majors and mid-career adults considering a new profession. The website, TeachNC.org, will feature information on the licensing process, educator preparation programs, application checklists, and financial aid options.
More than 30 of the state’s 54 public and private educator preparation programs have joined TeachNC so far. The website will continue to be updated with more information and tools for teacher candidates to explore and review.
State Superintendent Mark Johnson said encouraging people to join the teaching profession is more than just talking about salary and benefits. It’s about explaining why teaching is a fulfilling career.
Johnson pointed to recent teacher raises, efforts to reduce testing, and the implementation of advanced teaching roles as ways North Carolina is working to make teaching a rewarding profession.
“Being a teacher allows you to have a fruitful and fulfilling career anywhere in North Carolina — your hometown, a big city, the mountains, or the coast,” Johnson said. “We have over 2,500 public schools in North Carolina’s 100 counties, and now we have an easy-to-use platform to learn about becoming a teacher.”
TeachNC will work with local TV and radio stations to broadcast public service announcements to promote the initiative. The public media campaign is called “Teachers Have Better Work Stories” and will feature dramatized stories of teachers’ experiences.
Teacher ambassadors, such as Wake County Public Schools Teacher of the Year Matt Scialdone, will help promote the recruitment program and talk with people interested in becoming a teacher. Scialdone said he has already talked with several interested people — even before the official launch of TeachNC — about joining the teaching profession in North Carolina.
“I really truly believe the TeachNC initiative is going to bring more people into our classrooms and into a career that is not just my passion it is my home,” Scialdone said.
Lindsay Marchello is a staff writer for Carolina Journal.