Five colleges and universities were announced Thursday to host the state’s new teaching fellows program, which is aimed at training teachers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, math or special education.
The schools are: Elon University, Meredith College, N.C. State University, UNC-Chapel Hill and UNC-Charlotte. They were selected by the N.C. Teaching Fellows Commission, based on such factors as teacher effectiveness, internship experiences and passage rates for teacher licensure exams.
The N.C. Teaching Fellows Program, created by the legislature, will provide scholarships to about 160 future teachers each year, starting in the 2018-19 academic year. It replaces a previous teaching fellows program that had been phased out in 2011. The new program is more targeted, with the goal of attracting students to go into teaching specialties where there are shortages.
Students in the program will receive up to $8,250 per year in forgivable loans if they commit to teach in a STEM or a special education area. Teachers have 10 years to pay back the loan, either through cash or loan forgiveness. Recipients have to serve a year in a low-performing school or two years in another public school for each year they received the loan.
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The program will accept students with high school, associate’s or bachelor’s degrees, or those who want to switch majors in order to earn an education degree.
NCSU’s education dean, Mary Ann Danowitz, said her university’s College of Education is a perfect fit for the new program. “We are North Carolina’s largest producer of STEM educators, and the teachers we graduate are among the most effective in the state,” she said in a news release.
For years, NCSU has graduated the most students in North Carolina who have passed licensure exams in science and technology education disciplines. In 2014-15, NCSU graduated 107 students in STEM fields.
Elon already has its own National Teaching Fellows program, which was created after North Carolina’s state program ended. Currently, Elon enrolls 25 Teaching Fellows in each entering class in that program, providing $5,500 scholarships. Elon officials said they would combine their current program with the North Carolina Teaching Fellows.
Fouad Abd-El-Khalick, dean of UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Education, said in a statement that he was thrilled with the selection.
“The Teaching Fellows program will extend our ability to prepare highly qualified teachers in areas of high-need, such as in special education and in science and mathematics,” he said.
The commission includes four deans from educator preparation programs, teachers, principals, a member from business and industry and a local school board member.