GREENSBORO, N.C. - Guilford County Schools is partnering with Teach for America to bring thirty new teachers into the district every year for the next three years. The district hires about 600 teachers every year.
This year, 57,000 people applied to be part of the national Teach for America program. Only 14 percent made the cut. Teachers accepted into the program agree to stay in the district for at least two years. The program places teachers in low income areas that often struggle to attract quality teachers.
Marshall Matson joined Teach for America back in 1991. He moved to a tiny town in Northeast North Carolina and ended up staying there for a decade. Now, he's the principal at Mendenhall Middle School. Matson says his experience with Teach for America changed his life.
"I worked in a school with great teachers who took care of me. They took me in and taught me how to be a teacher along with all the other support I got from my core members and Teach for America as an organization," Matson said.
Some Guilford County School Board members criticized the idea of bringing in the organization. They said current teachers need more support and they fear the teachers will leave after two years. Sixty percent the teachers in the program leave their district after two years. Plus, the program costs money. Over three years, the district will invest $735,000. The state will invest $1,250,000. Some board members argued those dollars could be used elsewhere.
However, Matson says there are no guarantees any teacher will stay in any district.
"Right now, with the state policy landscape, it's particularly difficult to be a teacher. They're not feeling supported by the state legislature and all the new demands on them," Matson said.
Two local foundations pledged more than two million dollars to get the program started in Guilford County. Phillips Foundation pledged more than $2 million. Cemala Foundation pledged $100,000.
Teach for America says two-thirds of its alumni are still working in education.
Follow Mark Geary on Twitter: @MarkGeary