PEMBROKE — The bond Anthony Barton formed with other North Carolina Teaching Fellows at UNC Pembroke was more like family.
His experience laid the foundation for his success, first as a classroom teacher, and now as a principal with the Public Schools of Robeson County.
“We were a community. The teaching fellows all lived on campus and took the same classes. We were like a family who shared a strong bond. Honestly, without the support I received from Dr. (Karen) Granger and the Teaching Fellows program, I believe I would not have finished school.”
Barton joins a long list of local educators excited to learn UNCP has been selected to serve as a partner institution for the Teaching Fellows Program following a nine-year hiatus.
“We are pleased to see the return of the Teaching Fellows Program to our School of Education,” said Dr. Zoe Locklear, interim provost and founding dean of the School of Education.
“Previously, UNCP had one of the most productive programs in the state, producing more diverse teachers for diverse students throughout North Carolina, especially for school districts in southeastern North Carolina. Most importantly, most of our graduates remained in southeastern North Carolina and became employed in high-need schools, serving and meeting the educational needs and opportunities found throughout these districts.”
“Minority-serving institutions play a pivotal role in addressing the lack of educator diversity. UNC Pembroke has a rich history of preparing highly effective diverse educators who are equipped to succeed in rural classrooms and remain in the teaching profession,” said Dr. Loury Floyd, dean of the School of Education.
“Our partnership with the Teaching Fellows Program and the North Carolina Teaching Fellows Commission will assist with increasing diversity among the teacher workforce as we aim to better prepare all students to live and work in a multicultural society.”
The program is specifically designed to attract high-quality teachers to underperforming schools by offering an accelerated loan forgiveness schedule for teaching fellows who agree to teach in a low-performing school in North Carolina for at least four years.
Robeson County Schools Superintendent Freddie Williamson also welcomed the return noting the Teaching Fellows program is critical in providing quality educators to rural school districts throughout the state.
“UNC Pembroke and Fayetteville State University have been strong supporters of the Public Schools of Robeson County, and we are confident that the N.C. Teaching Fellows Program will provide our district with highly effective educators for years to come,” Dr. Williamson added.
UNCP joined the statewide Teaching Fellows Program in 1996 and remained part of the program until the program ended in 2012. Barton, the principal at Pembroke Middle School, is among 200 Fellows who graduated from the School of Education.
“It’s super encouraging to see the program return,” said Barton, a two-time graduate in his 14th year as an educator. “UNCP and the Teaching Fellows Program set the course for where I am today. The program opened a lot of doors and exposed me to some of the best professional development opportunities. It was one of the best experiences I’ve had.”