Over 20 Future Hampton Teachers to Graduate from TNCC as Part of Unique Initiative by School District

Published: May 11, 2011

Nearly 30 aspiring teachers are graduating from Thomas Nelson Community College (TNCC) on May 14 as part of a program called First Steps, a creative “grow your own” initiative by Hampton City Schools (HCS) to address a shortage of elementary and special education teachers. The students, all full-time HCS employees, met requirements to earn Associate degrees in social science with specialization in education and transferred to Old Dominion University (ODU) for the program’s next phase.

Launched in summer 2008 by HCS in partnership with TNCC and ODU, First Steps is training 24 HCS employees, and in return, the future teachers must commit to teaching at least three years in Hampton. The diverse group comprised of administrative assistants, teachers’ assistants and a school bus driver completed their TNCC degrees in a series of tailored eight-week sessions totaling four courses each semester, said Dr. Joan Hecht, Lecturer and Director of Cooperative Teacher Education Programs for TNCC/ODU.

Transitioning from taking evening classes at TNCC’s Hampton campus, the group began attending all of their classes at ODU’s Hampton-based Peninsula Higher Education Center last December in pursuit of Bachelor’s degrees in elementary education and ultimately Master’s degrees in either special education or elementary education.

“The beauty of this unique program is that it facilitates seamless transition, is available at a convenient location and has a flexible schedule that enables students to work while earning academic credentials and training to pursue their dreams,” said Hecht.

She explained that the program was initiated by HCS’s Coordinator of Professional Development Joan Davis through talks with TNCC officials. A former HCS superintendent encouraged Davis to collaborate with TNCC and ODU for the program. Using funds from a budget dedicated to employee tuition, the school system paid First Steps participants’ full tuition.

Although First Steps is unique to Hampton, it is a prototype that organizers hope will filter to other school systems in the region, said Hecht.

For more information about TNCC’s array of offerings in Education, visit www.tncc.edu, or call the Office of Public Relations, Marketing and Special Events at 757-825-2725.

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