Local News

Lateral Entry Program Provides Cure For State Teaching Shortage

Posted June 14, 2001

— Public school systems that struggle to fill teaching positions are getting some help, thanks to a new law. North Carolina allows people to enter the teaching profession through the Lateral Entry program. If you have a four-year degree already, you can get into a classroom fast.

Laura Will just spent the best year of her teaching career in her sixth-grade classroom at Rogers-Herr Middle School. She spent four years in college to get her education degree.

"I do think that good teaching can occur no matter what your background, you can be a good teacher if you're willing to put your time and heart into it," she said.

The state wants people who want to teach, but who may not have the training. Through the Lateral Entry program, applicants must be employed by a North Carolina School system who needs their field of expertise.

You must also have a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university and at least a 2.5 cumulative GPA or have passed the Praxis I teachers test.

Chip Thurston, a geologist and environmental science consultant, wants to teach high school. He has been hired through the Lateral Entry program.

Thurston is also required to attendN.C. Teach, a summer teaching academy that will get him ready to enter a classroom this fall with a first-year teacher's pay.

"Lateral Entry allows you to take classes while working without having to put your life on hold and go back to school full-time," he said.

The state also plans to streamline the process further by creating three regional centers that will let Lateral Entry applicants know how many more credits they need to take to finish a teaching degree. Even those who attend N.C. Teach have to take more courses.

Lateral Entry teachers used to have to take a teachers test at the end of their first year of teaching, which scared a lot of people away. A new law gives them two years to take the Praxis 2 test and five years to complete their teacher's training.

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