WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Several universities in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County area have partnered for a new program to recruit, prepare and retain teachers in high need schools.
WS-TEACH (Winston-Salem Teachers for Equity Achievement, Community and Humanity) is a collaborative project between Winston-Salem State University (WSSU), Wake Forest University, Salem College, and Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools (WS/FCS). A $4.7M grant from the U.S. Department of Education is funding the program for five years.
The program will recruit, prepare and retain 120 educators over the five years in three areas: special education, elementary education and secondary education. The graduate students will also get a 12-month $30,000 living stipend while they complete the program, including during internships in WS/FCS.
"We had a need for this before the pandemic and we have even more of a need here in the last couple years," said Alan Brown, the Department of Education chair at Wake Forest University. "We want to recruit and prepare great teachers to work in this high need schools, but we also will be giving them a living wage during their graduate study."
At the end of the program, students are guaranteed a teaching position within WS/FCS for at least three years. Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools currently has 40 teacher vacancies.
"This is an opportunity for us to try to incentivize teacher recruitment, to try to get more students toward graduate programs," said Brown. "That way they will feel better prepared to work in these schools."
Recruitment for the program will begin in fall with the first cohort expected to start in June 2023.
Triad Schools Hiring
Schools across the Piedmont Triad have been working to hire in a variety of different positions since the pandemic.
"We are seeing the same shortage in every single district across the state," Brian Proffitt, the Vice-President of the North Carolina Association of Educators. "There isn’t a single place that doesn’t have some kind of shortage right now and again that to me suggests that we ought to be able to take a step back and say why is this happening this is not about COVID this is a situation that has been in place for over a decade."
Guilford County Schools held two hiring events this week to get more teachers. The district currently has 27 vacancies.
"In order to add to our process and do things that will attract people, we have to think about the box," said GCS Director of Recruitment Alan Hooker. "This is an out-of-the-box effort to share with our community that we do have vacancies, one, and two, that we are looking for talented people with the mindset that we want to help and build relationships for kids to make our community a better place."
On Saturday, the district held an operations job fair for transportation, maintenance, building services, and school nutrition. The district has 53 jobs openings for bus drivers. GCS continues to offer a $1000 bonus for drivers who work every day in any given month.
"That was a big incentive," said Ralph Leath who was applying for a bus driver position Saturday. "I wanted to try something new."