TNCC, ODU & Hampton City Schools Collaboration Puts Aspiring Teachers on the Path to Their Careers

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Nearly 30 local residents who aspire to teaching careers began the first leg of their journey this fall when Thomas Nelson Community College (TNCC), Hampton City Schools (HCS) and Old Dominion University (ODU) launched an initiative to address a shortage of elementary and special education teachers. Called First Steps, the program gives full time HCS employees an opportunity to earn the training and academic credentials necessary to become teachers.

The HCS paraprofessionals began evening classes in August at the College’s Hampton campus on the road to associate’s degrees in social science with specialization in education. They were selected for First Steps based on successful completion of a 500-word essay, two letters of recommendation, and meeting TNCC enrollment requirements. The diverse group of aspiring teachers — two administrative assistants, 24 teacher assistants  and one school bus driver — will complete 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.