With a new multi-million-dollar grant, UNC-Greensboro’s (UNCG) School of Education will create a new teaching program focused on bringing high-tech thinking to two rural North Carolina counties.
The five-year, $6.1 million grant comes from the Teacher Quality Partnership grant program under the United States Department of Education.
UNCG School of Education will use the grant money to establish the Piedmont Teacher Residency Partnership. The Partnership will train new teachers in new technology and problem solving, and the teachers will be placed in some public schools in Rockingham and Surry counties.
A bachelor’s degree is required for teachers the program and applicants must be interested in working in areas including elementary and middle grades, special education and high school English, math or science.
UNCG will accept 20 students a year for the next four years for a total of 80 prospective teachers. The first class begins course work in Summer 2020 and teachers will be placed in schools during the 2020-2021 school year.
The program runs for 14 months, and students will be paid $35,000 from the grant for the year they spend teaching in schools.
Students completing the program will earn a Masters of Arts in teaching, as well as a teaching certificate. However, after graduation, graduates must work in an assigned school in Surry or Rockingham county for three years. During this time, the program will continue to provide support and training for teachers.
Students of the program will be placed in 11 high-poverty schools. Seven are in Rockingham County, and four in Surry.
“The idea is to meet mutual needs,” said Christina O’Conner to the Greensboro News and Record. O’Connor is the new director if the Piedmont Teacher Residency Partnership and the current director of professional education preparation, policy and accountability at the UNCG School of Education.
“It’s not just about UNCG,” said O’Conner. “It’s about UNCG worked with Surry and Rockingham to find innovative ways to make sure these teachers are prepared to meet the needs of the students in these schools.”
In addition to providing much-needed teachers in the two school districts, teachers placed from the program will be familiar with computational literacy—not computer coding, but a way to collect and analyze information. This information is then used to solve real, everyday problems in the digital age.
Students from the program will create makerspaces and workshops in their designated schools. These workshops allow students to design and create, while also carrying out the lessons they are learning in class.
According to O’Conner, computational literacy is “something we believe is very important in our emerging tech environment. Our students need to be able to think computationally, not just do computing.”
In 2014, UNCG received a $7.7 million grant from the same program. This money was used to recruit and train teachers in STEM areas in Guilford and Forsyth counties, who could then set up makerspaces to facilitate learning.
“This is truly transformational work,” said UNCG Chancellor Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr. in UNCG Now. “Our faculty and students are committed to creating long-term, meaningful change in rural communities that need and deserve the highest quality public instruction. A project of such scope and magnitude would not have been possible without this award; we are grateful to the U.S. Department of Education for its generous support.”