Homegrown Teacher Academy

The Homegrown Teacher Academy, a partnership of Duplin County Schools, James Sprunt Community College, and the University of Mount Olive, provides students who are interested in pursuing a teaching career in Duplin County and attend the University of Mount Olive scholarships to help make the cost of attendance even more affordable.  The University of Mount Olive Homegrown Teacher Academy consists of students that graduated from Duplin County High Schools and plan to return to teach in Duplin county.

Vision:  The Homegrown Teacher Academy aspires to effect positive change by inspiring Duplin county students to become future educators and leaders, thus, positively impacting the county and the education of students in Duplin County.

Mission:  To recruit highly qualified students into the field of education, to create a seamless pathway from high school through college and, eventually, to a successful teaching career in the Duplin County Schools.

Our rural communities grow because of the people in the community who know that serving others is indeed a life mission, and many of the educators who we work with are “called” to be a teacher and mentor.  Public schools in rural counties struggle to secure qualified teachers who will remain in their community rather than migrating to the cities after one or two years of service in the rural schools.

In response, the University of Mount Olive (UMO) proposes to collaborate with Duplin County Public Schools and James Sprunt Community College to create what we are calling the Homegrown Teacher Academy.  The purpose of this Academy would be to

  1. identify students in Duplin County Public Schools (DCPS) who should consider a teaching career and to work with these identified students;
  2. provide pre-college exposure to the profession of teaching;
  3. gain college credit through James Sprunt Community College (JSCC) and UMO while still enrolled in high school;
  4. promote seamless entry into UMO’s teacher education degree programs; and
  5. offer financial incentives to identified students to pursue a career by reducing the amount of student loans through academic scholarships from UMO and through special teacher grants through the Academy that would be forgiven over time in exchange for successful service as a teacher in the DCPS.

Initially, this program would identify students with a special emphasis in the discipline areas of science, mathematics, elementary education, special education, and agriculture.  However, as UMO currently has education licensure opportunities in ten (10) discipline areas, this Academy would be open to other licensure areas.

Those selected to participate would be given the opportunity through teaching or training to be a teacher while a student is in some of the most formative years of his/her life, from middle school through high school and into postsecondary education.  More importantly, the students will link their high school education with the beginning stages of their University education through mentorship, observations, and active learning in classrooms within their high school, community college, and university.

UMO has long had the tradition of serving first generation college students from eastern North Carolina communities, and nearly 20% of the students enrolled in the traditional program at UMO are from Duplin County.   Our student base at UMO is diverse: approximately 35% of the UMO student population are persons of color, and nearly 50% of our UMO student population are from a low-income families from rural communities.  Our UMO students often express their desire to give back and return to the community in which they began, and so our teacher licensure program equips those students who wish to return to their home communities as a teacher.

The Homegrown Teacher Academy presents the DCPS, JSCC, and UMO with a unique collaborative opportunity to enhance education within our rural communities in Duplin County by developing a Homegrown Teacher Academy in Duplin County that serves the mission of the University and the Kenan Foundation.

The program is divided into 3 basic components that span the student experience in middle school, high school, community college, and university.

Middle School

The seeds of career exploration need to be planted in middle school.  The middle school component of this program consists of introducing students to the role of the teacher.  This would include having meetings with teachers in their school to find out why they became teachers.  A second component would be a series of presentations by teacher education majors from JSCC and UMO  on various projects that they have been working on during this degree program that focus on the importance of teaching, the practice of teaching, and understanding why they chose to enter the education profession.  Finally, interested students would visit the community college and the university to become aware of the educational requirements for becoming a teacher and to develop a familiarity with the collegiate environments, as many of the students have never visited any postsecondary institutions.

High School

This stage involves having greater involvement in the profession of teaching.  Students who have achieved a grade point average (GPA) of at least a 3.5 would be approached to explore the possibility of entering the profession of teaching.  Those who apply and who are accepted into the Academy would be given the opportunity to shadow teachers, as well as assist in the planning and preparation of materials for classroom activities.  These students would be included in some JSCC and UMO education activities, including selected lectures and presentations by college and university faculty on various topics of education.  They would be transported to campus to participate in selected education department events and could be assigned a mentor from JSCC or UMO.

Community College/University

Students participating in this program would take selected courses from JSCC to fulfill basic General Education coursework, and perhaps some introductory education courses from JSCC or UMO.  Students who enter UMO directly from high school will have appropriate coursework taken at JSCC and/or UMO added to their official UMO transcript, which will give them an advantage in obtaining the baccalaureate degree through UMO.  Academy students enrolled in courses through JSCC could take those courses at no cost due to a North Carolina access program; UMO could offer some lower division education courses at a reduced cost to these students with the assistance of foundation funding coupled with a special rate offered by UMO to Academy program participants.

UMO provides generous academic scholarships to qualified entering students.    Because students identified through this program would have a high GPA, UMO would commit to awarding a Presidential-level scholarship, currently valued at $6,000 per year.    Students participating in this program who maintain at least a 3.2 GPA would have this scholarship matched for their junior and senior year as a Teacher Academy grant, with the requirement that they will work a minimum of 4 years in the DCPS.  In this fashion, students entering into the teaching profession would have their amount of student debt significantly reduced.  Academy students will do their final internship/student teaching in the DCPS.  If they are hired, the student’s obligation to repay the Teacher Academy grant would be reduced by 25% each year over a four-year period.

The Homegrown Teacher Academy identifies promising future teachers at an early age in rural Duplin County, offers experiential opportunities for them as future educators through high school, allows them to acquire collegiate credit prior to enrollment in postsecondary education, provides financial incentives to obtain their degree with reduced debt, and establishes a group of educators from the county in service to DCPS.

Funds requested are for the following:

  • Part-time Project Director at UMO
  • Stipends for part-time Program Coordinators at JSCC and at each DCPS high school
  • Program support for middle school awareness programs and for transportation to JSCC and/or UMO
  • Stipends for DCPS teachers overseeing students shadowing and assisting them in their classrooms
  • Program support for high school participants for education-related activities, workshops, travel to JSCC and UMO, and educational enrichment materials
  • Supplemental funds to assistance with access to introductory education courses offered by UMO to Academy students at a reduced cost
  • Scholarships/grants for education majors from the Teachers Academy during their junior and senior years at UMO.

Funds are requested over a five-year period to ensure that there are sufficient opportunities for students to be identified, oriented, trained, and ready for employment in the DCPS.

As a part of this academy, students study, visit, and learn about their county, the demographics, and its schools   Currently, we have 11 students in the academy, and three students that have graduated and now teach in Duplin County.

In order to help our students, gain more knowledge about the schools, districts, and the teaching profession, we are hosted a discussion panel.  The purpose of this panel was to answer questions and discuss Duplin County Schools and the teaching profession.

The school leaders that participated were:
Ann Hardy
Pamela Murray
Scott Ballard
Kevin Smith

To complete an application for the Homegrown Teacher Academy, please select which type of student you are.

Application for High School Students Application for Current UMO Students

For questions, please contact:
Gail Herring, Assistant Professor of Education