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Teaching Fellows In North Carolina Having Trouble Finding Jobs

By CityTownInfo.com Staff

June 17, 2009

College graduates in North Carolina who received fellowships to become teachers are now facing a brutal job market and a deadline to fulfill mandatory work in public schools as required by their scholarships.

The News & Observer [from an article originally located at http://www.newsobserver.com/news/education/story/1570754.html] in Raleigh reports that graduates of the North Carolina Teaching Fellows program have seven years after graduating to fit in four years of work in the state's public schools. If they fail to do so, they are required to repay $6,500 annually to the state along with 10 percent interest for every year they fall short of the required service. But faced with dwindling teaching opportunities, many fellows are concerned that they will be unable to obtain employment.

"This is not what we expected," said Jasmyne Hill, who graduated from Elon University this year. "It's kind of like we were promised jobs when we took the scholarships."

The program was originally meant to lure students to the teaching profession, and granted $6,500 for four years to eligible students, with the caveat that those who receive the funds must agree to teach for four years in a public school after graduation. Fellows may attend one of 18 colleges or universities in the state. Jo Ann Norris, the program administrator, noted that she was not aware of any other program like it in the country.

Four years ago, the commission that oversees the program anticipated more demand for teachers and increased the number of awards from 400 to 500. This year, hundreds of fellows who graduated college are seeking employment.

Jordan Manning, a fellow who started applying for jobs in local school systems two months before graduating from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with a degree in elementary education, is still looking. "I kind of knew then it was going to be bad," she told The Gaston Gazette. "As the weeks progressed, it seems like the outlook has gotten bleaker. I haven't gotten any calls back. I haven't gotten any interviews."

She is considering applying to teach in South Carolina, even though she will have to repay her scholarship with interest. "I'd rather have a job than not have one at all," she said. "It's a scary thought. I'm trying to be positive."

Nevertheless, Norris advised new graduates to stay calm, noting that in extreme circumstances, the commission allows scholarship recipients more time to meet their requirements. "We've been through budget crises before," she told The News & Observer, "and as I say to folks who call, hopefully this economic downturn is not going to last forever."

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