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$1.6 Million Federal Grant Addresses Teacher Shortage

A five-year, $1.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education will help Appalachian State University prepare new teachers who have entered the teaching profession from other careers.

The Appalachian Transition to Teaching Program (ATTP), funded by the $1.6 million federal grant, will work with school districts in Northwest North Carolina that have requested assistance in training teachers who have been hired without licensure or without traditional teacher preparation. Districts across the state are employing these personnel, known as lateral entry teachers, because of severe staffing shortages caused by expanding student enrollment and teacher attrition.

Appalachian’s Reich College of Education will provide classes and instruction to up to 20 school districts, utilizing the university’s existing alliance with 10 regional community colleges that offer university-level coursework on their campuses. Appalachian faculty will deliver the courses in person or through telecommunications.

The program allows lateral entry teachers to continue working full time while completing requirements for state licensure in an accelerated manner. The grant also pays tuition stipends.

The goal of ATTP is to produce at least 175 fully qualified teachers within five years. This will help alleviate North Carolina’s teacher shortage, while at the same time supporting President Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, which calls for a “highly qualified” teacher in every American classroom within five years.

“By clustering school districts and identifying lateral entry teachers and their needs, we can build cohorts of students and offer them coursework that will help them become fully qualified teachers for Northwest North Carolina,” says Dr. Charles Duke, dean of the Reich College of Education.

The N.C. Department of Public Instruction says the state needs more than 11,000 new teachers each year this decade. However, North Carolina’s public and private institutions only produce about 3,200 licensed teachers per year.

“ATTP won’t meet all staffing needs in Northwest North Carolina, but it will improve lateral entry teachers’ qualifications for the classroom, and create a more supportive environment for them,” Duke says.

As part of ATTP, three regional sites staffed with an academic field experience coordinator to work as a liaison between the school districts and Appalachian will be created. Each site will serve five to seven school districts. The sites will be supported by a full-time ATTP director on Appalachian’s main campus in Boone.

One regional site will be located at Western Piedmont Community College in Morganton, with other locations to be identified in the future.

ATTP will focus its recruitment efforts within the following 20 counties: Alexander, Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Cleveland, Davie, Forsyth, Iredell, McDowell, Mitchell, Rowan, Rutherford, Surry, Watauga, Yadkin and Yancey. These counties constitute the service area of the university’s agreement with 10 community colleges, known as the Appalachian Learning Alliance.

“We already have the infrastructure in place to support this grant,” Duke says. “ATTP is tailored specifically to address a population that lacks certain qualifications. It’s our goal to accelerate their reaching fully qualified teaching status.”

Duke says he expects ATTP’s classes to begin as early as January 2003.

For more information, contact Dr. Charles Duke, dean of the Reich College of Education, at (828) 262-2234 or the Appalachian’s Office of Extension and Distance Education at (828) 262-3113.