Local News

Through Web Site, Federal Aid, State Strives To Recruit, Retain Teachers

Posted December 10, 2003 12:08 p.m. EST

— Though students are on summer vacation, work is just beginning for hundreds of principals across the state.

By the first bell, the state will need 10,000 new teachers, and 5,000 have yet to be hired.

By the looks of a recent Cumberland County teacher job fair, it appears plenty of people are willing to go to the front of the class. The county needs 150 teachers before classes start in August.

In reality, North Carolina loses 13 percent of its teachers every year, many leaving for better-paying jobs out of education.

Last year, the state launched


a Web site dedicated to recruiting teachers. With 10,000 new teachers needed every fall, education leaders know that it is not enough.

"The biggest thing we need to do is work harder to retain good teachers in the classroom," said J.B. Buxton, Gov. Mike Easley's education advisor. "When you lose 40 percent of teachers in the first five years in any profession, you've got to figure out how to keep your best people in that profession."

Buxton said one way to do it is to encourage individual schools to set up mentoring programs by teaming veteran teachers with new ones.

This year, Cumberland County hopes to have an advantage. Through a federal grant, the county is offering to pay for a teacher's masters degree in exchange for teaching in the district for at least two years.

That is an enticing offer to Sarah DeLong, a recent graduate from Pennsylvania.

"I want to go somewhere I'm needed," DeLong said, "and I feel like there is a need in North Carolina."

Each year, North Carolina hires about 7,000 teachers from out of state. That's because state schools only graduate about 3,000 thousand teachers a year.

Education leaders are developing new partnerships with state schools in an effort to produce more teachers.

Teach4NC was an initiative launched by Easley. About 170,000 people have visited the site, and more than 2,000 visitors have requested information. The state does not keep track of how many potential teachers were offered jobs after using the site.