Like many school districts, the Surry County School System in rural North Carolina is facing a teacher shortage. Knowing that current teaching staff come from the area, rather than looking outward to recruit more teachers, district leaders opted to create a teacher pipeline from inside their own high school classrooms.
Today, students have opportunities beginning in ninth grade to explore the teaching profession, gain experience in the classroom helping students to read and interning with a teacher, and take teacher preparation coursework (some of which counts toward North Carolina’s teacher education requirements). Seniors can take a paid pre-apprenticeship, which leads to the opportunity to apply to be hired after graduation into the Teacher Assistant to Teacher Apprenticeship program.
Some students have moved in different directions, of course. While the school district is excited about this teacher pipeline, Assistant Superintendent Dr. DeAnne Danley sees benefits even for students who figure out teaching is not for them. “It’s as important for students to find out what they don’t want to do as what they want to do.” For those who come all the way through and are hired as apprentices, Dr. DeAnne Danley predicts that “. . . as our students become our employees, our employee retention will be high, because they’ve seen the commitment we have to them.”
Apprentices’ role in the classroom is like a teaching assistant, where—after a summer of onboarding and training—they’re paired with a certified teacher who’s in charge of lesson planning and instruction, but with the apprentice’s help throughout. Looking at the hands-on work experience high school students and apprentices gain, Dr. Danley already sees that “. . . the classroom experience is helping them, giving them lessons they can apply in their own classrooms. It also gives them a sense of confidence and pride in what they’re doing, a sense that ‘I can do this. I can make a way to my goal.’”
In addition to working with students in the classroom, apprentices attend Surry Community College’s teacher preparation associate degree program, and then they can continue with a four-year degree program offered on the Surry Community College campus. The school district is able to tap state apprenticeship funding to help offset wages and tuition costs for the apprentices.
Superintendent Dr. Travis Reeves says, “I’m proud that, as educators, we can share the profession with our students through this pre-apprenticeship/apprenticeship program. Through this program, Surry County Schools can build the pipeline of our future educational workforce, growing our own to perform as high-quality educators. We are planning ahead and being intentional with our resources.”
Publish Date: 09/28/2023