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UNC-Chapel Hill School of Education selected for N.C. Teaching Fellows program

The School of Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was one of five schools named Thursday to participate in a new North Carolina Teaching Fellows program aimed at supporting students preparing for a teaching career in the fields of science, technology, engineering, math or special education.
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“We are thrilled to have been selected for the Teaching Fellows program,” said Fouad Abd-El-Khalick, dean of the School of Education. “This selection is a result of the strength and effectiveness of our teacher-preparation programs.

“The Teaching Fellows program will extend our ability to prepare highly qualified teachers in areas of high-need, such as in special education and in science and mathematics,” he said.

The program was established to recruit, prepare and support students attending North Carolina’s top education programs for preparation as highly effective STEM or special education teachers in the state’s public schools.

Students participating in the North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program will receive up to $8,250 per year in forgivable loans if they commit to teach in a STEM or a special education area. The program is specifically designed to attract high-quality teachers to low-performing schools by offering an accelerated loan forgiveness schedule for Teaching Fellows who agree to teach in a low-performing school in North Carolina.

Other schools selected for the program were NC State University, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Elon University and Meredith College.

The five institutions were selected by the North Carolina Teaching Fellows Commission based on the criteria outlined in state law, including educator effectiveness, impact on student learning, passage rates for required licensure exams, early and frequent internship experiences for educator prep students, among other factors.

Diana Lys, assistant dean of educator preparation and accreditation for the School of Education, led development of the school’s application. Contributing to Carolina’s application were the strengths of two programs: The UNC-BEST program and the ability to obtain dual licensure in special education in the Master of Arts in Teaching program.

UNC-BEST is a collaboration with Carolina’s College of Arts and Sciences in which science and mathematics majors can also complete coursework for teaching licensure. The M.A.T. program includes the option that allows students to become dually licensed in elementary or secondary education, plus special education.

“The North Carolina Teaching Fellows program will allow UNC-Chapel Hill to leverage the best of the UNC-BEST program with its math and science focus with the M.A.T. program’s opportunity for all teacher candidates to be dually licensed in a content area and special education,” Lys said.

School of Education faculty member Eric Houck was in the first class of Teaching Fellows at Carolina in 1989-1992 and contributed to Carolina’s application.

Houck said: “It is critically important for the School of Education to have a role in preparing some of the best and brightest minds the state has for careers as educators. My Teaching Fellows cohort challenged, shaped and guided me in my career as an educator. My relationships with my Teaching Fellows classmates continue to this day and Teaching Fellows alumni are a critical backbone to North Carolina’s educational policy and delivery infrastructure.

“It is fantastic to see the state of North Carolina stepping into its responsibilities to ensure every child has access to a well-prepared and well-trained classroom teacher, which is foundational to their attainment of a sound, basic education,” Houck said.

Martinette Horner, another School of Education faculty member who was a Teaching Fellow as an undergraduate student at Carolina, also helped with the application.

“The Teaching Fellows program signals two things. First, it’s an acknowledgment that teaching is complex and so is the preparation of teachers,” Horner said. “Second, it demonstrates a commitment by our state to the work of making sure our children have high quality, well prepared teachers.”

Applications for the Teaching Fellows program are scheduled to be available in December, with the first recipients to be selected for the 2018-19 school year.

Highlights of the North Carolina Teaching Fellows program:

  • The application for prospective Teaching Fellows will be made available in early December.
  • The amount of the forgivable loan is up to $8,250.
  • Any student with a high school, associates or bachelor’s degree is eligible. Even students who wish to transfer or change their majors are eligible.
  • Teachers have 10 years to pay back the loan, either through cash repayment or loan forgiveness. In order to meet the loan forgiveness requirement, a teacher is required to serve one year in a low-performing school or two years in another public school for every year they were awarded a forgivable loan.
  • The North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program provides scholarships to roughly 160 future teachers per year.

More details are available at