Teaching. It’s something that the dean of UNCW’s school of education has always wanted to do.
“I’m a person that came to college wanting to be a teacher," Van Dempsey said. "I knew when I showed up as a freshman I wanted to be a social studies teacher and that’s what I did, and it was the best decision I could have made at the time. It’s turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life because I’m still in education.”
Now, Dempsey wants to help students in New Hanover County find that same passion.
UNCW is partnering with the New Hanover County school system to start the Future Teachers Career Academy. According to Dempsey, the program lets high schoolers at Isaac Bear Early College understand what the role of a teacher is before they get to college to see if it’s a career that they want to pursue.
High schoolers will take UNC education classes, visit classrooms around the country and shadow teachers.
“Students will understand what the role of a teacher is and understand what the challenges are that teachers face," Dempsey said. "They’ll understand children, make sure, and hopefully decide early that this is something they want to do. But if they decide this is something they don’t want to do, they can also make that decision early."
NHC Schools Superintendent Dr. Tim Markley said he sees this program as a win for everyone involved. He said students who graduate from the program will be at the top of the hiring list of teachers in New Hanover County.
“We’re looking at programs that help us grow our own," Markley said. "Find kids who are interested in education, get them into that program early and if they live here, if they grow up here, they’re more than likely going to stay here longer.”
“It’s a pipeline for teachers for us," he added. "What we’re seeing is, like I said, those folks who grew up here and teach tend to want to stay here longer. They’re the ones that become those veteran teachers. They’re the ones that grow into principals and so we want to keep them here as long as we can.”
Markley said the academy is an extension of the school system’s successful teacher cadet program.
“It’s a long-term program for us. It’s a recruiting tool for us to attract our own students back into teaching,” Markley said.
The leaders said they chose to have the academy at Isaac Bear because the school already offers other college classes at UNCW.
Dempsey said it’s the kids that these students will eventually teach that excites him most about the academy.
“They’re going to bring that energy into the lives of thousands of young people and that’s just a great thing," Dempsey said. "That’s just a great thing for a person to do.”
According to Dempsey, students in the program will also get priority consideration for admission to UNCW. They will host a lot of events this fall to introduce the program to eighth graders, parents, teachers and counselors. The academy is set to start in fall of 2018.
If you would like to apply to the academy, visit www.nhcs.net/IsaacBear.
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