Since 2002, more than 700 Craven Community College (Craven CC) students have completed their bachelor’s degree in elementary, middle or special education through State Employees Credit Union (SECU) Partnership East program. The SECU Partnership East program is an East Carolina University (ECU) College of Education degree completion partnership with North Carolina community colleges (CCs).
According to Gerald Baldwin, coordinator for the East Coast Consortium of CCs, ECU prepares more eastern North Carolina teachers than any other institution, yet there is still a shortage of teachers. Baldwin said among the SECU Partnership East program’s goals is to help communities to grow teachers close to home.
Students complete general education course work for the first two years through Craven CC. Recently the curriculum was revised to take the guesswork out of scheduling transfer courses, according to Baldwin. Then, the students enter ECU as juniors. The ECU coursework is completed entirely online which gives working students flexibility. There are full-time and part-time options in the program.
According to Baldwin, “Our students spend time in the school classroom in the first semester.” Baldwin says this early exposure helps students determine that teaching is the right decision for them. Students are in classroom setting 8-16 hours per week. In their senior year, they participate in two internships. The first internship is one day per week, and the second is four months in a public school setting. During the four-month practicum internship, a student a student works with a teacher, in a classroom every day for the entire internship.
Craven CC student Kayla Cannon knew she was going to be a teacher. Her plan was to complete her associates and then transfer to ECU. In her second year at Craven CC she found out about SECU Partnership East and changed her plan. “I love online classes and I wanted to stay close to home,” said Cannon. She plans to be a third grade teacher.
By attending Craven CC first, students can save on tuition costs for the first two years. Katelyn Roberts, Craven CC transfer student, began the full-time ECU program in July. She said she likes that the program is online. Roberts is able to continue working part-time at Excel Learning Center in Riverbend, N.C., where she was recently recognized as the “Teacher of the Week.” Roberts plans to teach in the area as a first or second grade teacher.
“I’m really excited about enrolling new Pirates in the fall of 2018,” said Baldwin. He is the coordinator for the following community colleges: Beaufort County, Carteret, Coastal Carolina, Martin, Pamlico, and Roanoke Chowan.
The SECU Partnership EAST is currently advising students who may be interested in enrolling in the fall 2018 semester. Contact Baldwin at 252-638-6492, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deborah Kania is the former director of communications and current director of the Small Business Center at Craven Community College.
The article originally appeared in the New Bern Sun Journal.