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North Carolina Grows Its Own Teachers

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The Edmonds Scholar program at North Carolina Central University provides 25 education majors a year with full scholarships. In turn, they agree to teach at least four years in a high-need district in the state. Included: Three future teachers share their reactions to the program!

As many states struggle to find teachers for their neediest school districts, North Carolina hopes for big returns from a program designed to nurture local teaching talent and keep it close to home.

The Edmonds Scholar Program is providing four-year scholarships and other amenities to 25 North Carolina residents majoring in education. The students, in turn, agree to spend four years teaching in one of the state's high-need districts. The schools in which they will teach have not yet been selected. Six of the scholars are men and 19 are women.

"This scholarship is designed to recognize the high school senior who professes an interest in teaching before coming to college," Dietrich Morrison-Danner told Education World. He directs the teaching fellows and Edmonds Scholars at North Carolina Central University. "The program is designed to mold the student into the teacher of tomorrow."

The scholarship program was named after Dr. Ronald Edmonds, an African American educator and researcher who studied institutional barriers to student success. A $5 million Teacher Quality Enhancement Grant from the U.S. Department of Education funds the program for five years. After the grant runs out, the college plans to continue the program with other funding, according to Morrison-Danner.

North Carolina Central University is among 27 federal grant recipients offering such scholarships, according to Edward Crowe, director of teacher quality enhancement for the U.S. Department of Education. "It's a strong program, and the university is an important source of minority teachers for the state," Crowe told Education World. "There is a strong university commitment to providing teachers for surrounding districts."


The college does its best to relieve students of financial worries. In addition to receiving free tuition, room, board, and books for four years, Edmonds Scholars also get laptop computers and support to study abroad.

That level of financial support makes it easier for students to enter and remain in the profession, Crowe said. "They graduate with less debt, which is good, because they are going into a lower-paid profession."

Edmonds Scholars work hard while they are in school. They must maintain a grade point average of 2.5 out of a 4.0, participate in weekly seminars and at least one professional conference per year, take part in community service in a public school, participate in or lead study groups, and agree to acquire an intermediate level of proficiency in Spanish. Students conduct research, publish at least one article in the college's school of education journal, and take additional education courses. The scholars also have opportunities for internships, Morrison-Danner said.

The education department continues to support the students after they graduate. "They create and sustain a support system for new teachers. The main reason we lose new teachers is the lack of support," Crowe said.


Two Edmonds Scholars told Education World they knew in high school that they wanted to be teachers. They learned about the scholarship from their high school guidance counselors.

Applicants were chosen based on their high school records, interviews, and references, Morrison-Danner said. High school seniors needed at least a 2.7 GPA and a Scholastic Assessment Test score of at least 900.

"I really want to teach, and this ensures that I will teach for four years," said Tracy Avery, 19, a freshman education major from Garner, North Carolina. Some of his own teachers inspired him to pursue an education career, Avery told Education World. "There were teachers in elementary and high school who influenced me and helped me make good decisions. I want to be one of those teachers."

Keosha McKoy, 18, a freshman from Fayetteville, North Carolina, said she is convinced that "teaching is the most rewarding job to have." The scholarship makes reaching her goals easier. "It's a blessing to be well-taken care of when it comes to school. I think this is the best scholarship to have if you are going to be a teacher."

McKoy, who plans to teach high school English, told Education World she was inspired by an aunt who is a teacher and by a high school English teacher. "My high school English teacher really influenced my love of English -- literature, words, everything," she said. "I want to do the same thing for someone else."

The camaraderie among the Edmonds Scholars is another benefit of the program, McKoy added. "I've met a lot of lifelong friends here."

Yen Nguyen, 19, a freshman from Durham, North Carolina, said she wants to share her love of higher-level mathematics with high school students. As a child, Nguyen said, she enjoyed being the teacher while playing school and wanted to learn more about the teaching profession. The Edmonds program has been "pretty good so far," Nguyen told Education World. The prospect of teaching in a high-needs district does not concern Avery and McKoy. "I know I'll be going somewhere that needs me," Avery said. "Making a difference anywhere is just making a difference," added McKoy, "no matter where it is. The experience is what is going to be the best thing."