Initiated by a data review of teacher practices across the state, the District Visits Voices team including Julie Pittman, Freebird McKinney and Jessica Swencki visited with teachers, district leaders and universities in the Sandhills region. Throughout their two-day visit, the team spent time with four districts and two university educator preparation programs to gain insight and understanding on teacher recruitment and retention and the teacher pipeline in North Carolina.
The DPI team began its teacher engagement talks on Tuesday, May 25 with a focus on teacher cadets and beginning teachers. At Richmond Senior High School, the focus was North Carolina’s teacher cadet program. Through the program, there is an emphasis on teacher recruitment beginning in high school, where cadets can develop vested interests in the communities they grew up as both a student and teacher cadet.
Building the teacher pipeline through Teacher Cadet programs!🙌🏻 #studentvoice #ncteachertalks #edleadnc https://t.co/Xpc6SZmWDx
— Julie Paige Pittman (@twinologist) May 25, 2021
Continuing to Douglas Byrd Middle School, previously visited by the District Visits and Voices team in mid-May, the discussion focused on beginning teachers. These teachers can have a significant impact on changing the culture of students and colleges and can be true agents of change in schools due to their unique relationships with students.
Engaged, inspired, and charged by our #NCTeacherTalks @dbyrdhawks. Thank you Principal DiGaudio for your example and the “defined autonomy” you imbue in transformational teacher leadership like Mr. Spencer, Ms. Thomas, and Mr. McDaniel! A beautiful partnership is unfolding... pic.twitter.com/qWOdpBJCGf
— Freebird McKinney (@FreebirdsShire) May 26, 2021
Concluding their first day at Fayetteville State University’s Educator Preparation Program (EPP), Pittman, McKinney and Swencki met with Dean Dr. Dean Marion Gillis-Olion and educators to discuss new teacher support, recruitment and retention efforts to diversify the workforce.
On their second day in the Sandhills, the DPI team shifted its focus to the teacher pipeline. In Robeson County, the emphasis was on a “grow your own” initiative to combat the human capital crisis. School leadership has studied alternative licensure pathways by investing in TA to teacher programs. In Scotland County, Superintendent Dr. Takeda LaGrand is eager to eliminate roadblocks for adult learners as they look to become teachers.
Without a doubt, we can accomplish anything when we work together. Thank you for a wonderful day of listening and learning! @Scotland_County @RichmondCCedu @uncpembroke @TakedaEDU @PSRCEDU @dr_loury @twinologist @FreebirdsShire pic.twitter.com/RKwa3n9ALb
— Jessica B. Swencki (@JessicaBSwencki) May 27, 2021
Wrapping up their two-visit, the staff visited UNC Pembroke where the School of Education has established unique partnerships with local community colleges to align associates degrees to teacher credits at the university level.
“We want to make North Carolina the place you want to teach and the place you want to become a teacher.” - Dr. Loury Floyd, Dean of UNC Pembroke’s School of Educationd
By creating a credit-bearing curriculum, college students have greater success and foster longevity within the profession. This partnership can be a model for community colleges and EPPs across the state.
Now what? Throughout the team’s visit to the Sandhills region, the goal was to witness how the region was combating the problems related to teacher recruitment and retention. The schools, districts and EPPs created innovative ways to grow and diversify the workforce to support the needs of students in the community. The steps toward success and overcoming these obstacles should be scaled on a state-level to provide highly qualified teachers for all North Carolina students. The DPI team has already taken conversations from the Sandhills visit to state legislators to stress the importance of teacher recruitment and retention.