Wake County is looking to its high school students for some of the fast-growing school system’s future teachers.
The school system accepted 23 high school seniors into the first class of its Future Teachers Program. Wake will pay the soon-to-be graduates to receive summer training while in college and will give them three-year teaching contracts after they graduate.
Wake has been showering the students with recognition at their high school senior awards assemblies. On Friday, six students at Broughton High School in Raleigh were singled out for wanting to join the ranks of Wake’s 10,000 teachers.
“Being a teacher is super important because you actually get a chance to mold the lives of tons of people and awesome teachers make for awesome people that go out into the world and change lives,” said Samira Holloway, 17, a Broughton senior accepted into the program.
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Samira, who is thinking of becoming a special education or communications teacher, will spend the next four years majoring in education at N.C. Central University in Durham.
Beginning in the summer after their college freshmen year, Wake will pay Samira and the other students to take week-long summer classes on how to teach in North Carolina’s largest school system. The goal, according to Doug Thilman, Wake’s assistant superintendent for human resources, is to “train them in the Wake County way for becoming high quality professional teachers.”
The new program comes at a time when Wake hires 1,000 new teachers a year. The new hires replace teachers who have resigned and expand the pool of instructors to cope with growth, currently about 3,000 additional students a year.
School leaders are worried about the drop in the number of students in the UNC system studying to become teachers.
Thilman said the new program allows the district “to recruit and develop Wake County’s internal student talent pool.” He estimated the three-year contract and award package will be worth a little over $100,000 per person.
Evan Morton, 18, a Broughton senior, hopes his spot in the program will one day lead to a job as a high school band director. Morton said he wants to spread the love of music he picked up from his teachers.
“Once I started doing music, I got my grades up,” Morton said. “I got my life together. I was doing a better job with everything. I really want to spread that to other people and expand their horizons the way I expanded mine with music.”
Morton will study music education at Wake Tech.
Thilman briefed the school board on the program last week. School board Vice Chairman Tom Benton noted that none of this year’s 26 high school valedictorians listed education or teaching as their intended area of study in college.
“I’m hoping with this program that it will just be a matter of time before we have a valedictorian back in here that’s saying that their plans are to go to school and return as a teacher in Wake County,” he said.
Hui: 919-829-4534; Twitter: @nckhui