Teacher Pipeline Coming To Johnston County

JCPS Career and Technical Education Director Suzanne Lujan (standing left) presenting to Governor Roy Cooper and other state officials.

Johnston County Public Schools (JCPS  in partnership with Johnston Community College (JCC), NC State University, and the NC Community College System, plans to launch a dedicated teacher pipeline designed to begin training new teachers as early as high school.

The pipeline would provide high schoolers the opportunity to take dual-enrollment college courses in high school in order to earn an associate degree in teaching. Students would then continue on at NC State’s College of Education to earn their Bachelor’s.

Suzanne Lujan, Executive Director of Career and College Readiness for JCPS, said the program would be the first of its kind in the state.

“Charlotte just opened an Early College with a focus on training the next generation of teachers in partnership with UNC Charlotte. That’s the only other similar program that we know of. So what we’re going to have here is a bit different. Our partnerships allow students at traditional high schools to get this opportunity without having to transfer to a different school,” she said.

The program is expected to launch in the 2019-2020 school year and will be based out of Smithfield-Selma High School. High school students across the district and at Johnston County Early College Academy will be able to take Career and College Promise classes at JCC, tuition free, that will transfer to NC State. Lujan expects the first teachers from the program to be in the classroom by the 2023-2024 or 2024-2025 school year.

“I think the program could be very effective. We’re not doing anything so direct right now, and I think that this is really going to be direct for our students who are interested in being educators and give them a path and an opportunity,” Lujan said.

Many of the details of the program are still being worked out, but while taking college level courses throughout the school year, high school students could also have the possibility of working for the school system over the summer as paid interns. While at State, students would also be given professional development options in Johnston County along with the guarantee they would be placed in the county for their student teaching positions. There is also talk of guaranteed hiring of graduates through the use of contracts that students would sign during their educational pathway along with priority hiring for teachers coming through the pipeline.

Throughout the program, NC State’s College of Education would be involved in academic advising, co-teaching, synchronous classroom experiences, and on-campus enrichment opportunities to ensure students participate in a guided pathway that aligns with the NC State College of Education’s courses of study.

The program’s goal is to invest in and recruit teachers to the schools along the I-95 corridor, hopefully many of them originally from the area itself.

Lujan said the key to the program’s success will be getting the word out about the program to interested students.

“Mostly it’s going to be advertising and marketing the potential and trying to identify those kids who have an interest in becoming a teacher and wanting to come back and live in their community. So we just have to find them. We have to advertise and get the program word out there to get those kids,” she said.

Lujan expects the program to enroll roughly 50 students per year after it is up and running.

Lujan recently also shared the district’s ideas in a meeting with the Governor and other various state officials including UNC System President Margaret Spellings and NC Superintendent Mark Johnson.