CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Monday was the first day of class for students in Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District's (CMS) new Teacher Early College Program. It's the first of its kind in the state.
The program is housed at the University of North Carolina Charlotte campus (UNCC). There are 55 9th graders are enrolled in the program. The purpose is to help fill the teacher pipeline.
"The supply is not there, and North Carolina is not producing enough teachers and so we have to start at this level," Teacher Early College Principal Will Leach said.
It is estimated that NC will need about 10,000 new teachers to keep up. Numbers also show there is a decrease of college students majoring in education. Educators say the need is great. The students will learn very quickly what it takes to be a teacher.
"Starting this year, a high school teacher cadet class - Where we are kind of exposing them to the teaching profession - talking to them about learning, teaching and learning, taking them out to campuses, letting them see what's happening in schools," Leach said.
This is a five-year program. When students finish they will earn a high school diploma and 60 college credit hours. The state will pay for students' college tuition. Students are encouraged that their peers have decided to work in the classrooms.
"It feels good that they also want to make an impact on someone else's life," student Warren Chapman said.
This new program will cost CMS more than $104,000 to operate.