HAMLET — Local community leaders, educators and legislators celebrated a new partnership Monday between Richmond Community College and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke that will make it easier for Richmond and Scotland County residents to become teachers.
The celebration marked the kickoff for the new UNCP-Elementary Education transfer program that will be offered this fall to RichmondCC students who are interested in becoming elementary education teachers.
Vice President for Instruction at RichmondCC Kevin Parsons explained how the transfer program works, with RichmondCC students first completing an associate degree and then transferring into UNCP’s Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education program. Students will take UNCP classes online and through traditional classes at RichmondCC.
“In this way, we are growing our own teachers, which we’ve never done before through such a prescribed pathway,” Parsons said.
Dr. Kelly Ficklin, UNCP education coordinator, said the Elementary Education Department is excited to be bringing UNCP professors to RichmondCC to help change lives in this region. These instructors will be teaching evening classes on RichmondCC’s campus.
State Rep. Ken Goodman, D-Richmond, remarked on the “win-win-win” situation that the program would create for the local school systems, RichmondCC and UNCP.
“It will put more teachers in our schools and help alleviate the teacher shortage,” Goodman said. “Teacher candidates will be able to get their education at a greatly reduced cost and a lot more convenience, and they won’t have to drive 40 miles one way every day or move from this area.”
He said the partnership between RichmondCC and UNCP is a great service to “educating homegrown people who can come back here and can work where they live and where they’re from.”
State Sen. Tom McInnis, R-Richmond, recognized the group of teacher cadets from Richmond Senior High School attending the kickoff celebration, noting how these students would benefit from the program.
“We’re giving these students the opportunity to live here in this community and stay in their native home, never having to leave to get their four-year degree, to get their teacher certificate and to be able to make $50,000 within 15 years,” McInnis said.
McInnis said teachers used to have to wait until their 30th year to be bumped up to the $50,000 salary mark, but new legislation has changed that.
“We’re talking real money and money that is meaningful for this community,” the senator added.
Making Education Affordable
As Dr. Robin Cummings, UNCP Chancellor, and Dr. Dale McInnis, president of RichmondCC, prepared to sign an official agreement for the teacher education program, Cummings remarked on McInnis’ commitment to growing a long-standing relationship between UNCP and RichmondCC, which is also a priority for the chancellor.
“Partnerships like the one we’re signing today put UNCP within the reach of more people than ever by bringing the university to you as described,” Cummings said.
Cummings said cost and access are two major factors that impact a person getting their education. He explained elements are already in place to help overcome the financial burden of education, the RichmondCC Guarantee and the NC Promise plan.
The RichmondCC Guarantee is paving the way for Richmond and Scotland County residents to start the first two years of their college education for free. Starting in fall 2018, the NC Promise will provide in-state students at UNCP a cost savings of $2,500 per year.
Cummings said students who take advantage of these programs would graduate with a four-year degree with very little college debt.
“When we bring UNC-Pembroke to Richmond County, we’re impacting access. We’re making it easier for you students to get your education,” said Cummings.
Perfect Time to Become A Teacher
Dr. Dale McInnis said the UNCP-Elementary Education transfer program for RichmondCC students is happening at the perfect time.
“Our legislators are working hard to raise salaries for school teachers. Our schools are a great place to work,” Dr. McInnis said. “This college is prepared to help students through their first two years, and we have a great university that embraces this model and this opportunity for future students.
“This agreement is historic. It is going to make our schools, our college, our university and all of our communities a stronger place to live and to learn,” Dr. McInnis said.
RichmondCC will be holding two informational sessions for people to learn more about the UNCP-Elementary Education transfer program. The first session will be held Wednesday, March 8, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Career & Transfer Center located in the Lee Building on the college’s main campus in Hamlet. The second session will be held Thursday, March 9, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Honeycutt Center in Laurinburg.
For more information, call 910-410-1700, or visit www.richmondcc.edu.
Wylie D. Bell is director of marketing and communications for Richmond Community College.