HENRY COUNTY – Mercer University’s College of Education has partnered with Henry County Schools and Southern Crescent Technical College to launch a new program designed to create and support sustainable teacher development pipelines in Henry County.

The program, called Tomorrow’s Teachers Today, will involve a three-phase implementation process, including early identification and recruitment of teachers starting in kindergarten, enhanced career pathways to teaching such as dual enrollment credits and paid internships while in high school, and accelerated paths to teaching as an undergraduate and university graduate.

“Tomorrow’s Teachers Today started with a conversation between Superintendent (Mary Elizabeth) Davis and Dean (Thomas) Koballa. Their conversation shows what happens when vision meets necessity,” said Dr. Sharon Augustine, assistant dean and associate professor of education.

“The initiative seeks to recruit from within districts from a young age through high school and into post-secondary institutions. We hope to develop a scalable model to create sustainable and reliable pathways to becoming a teacher. This focus has attracted the attention of the Georgia Professional Standards Commission and the Georgia Department of Education because of its potential help teacher recruitment and retention in the long run in Georgia.”

The first program of its kind in Georgia, Tomorrow’s Teachers Today will allow direct access from high school to salaried teaching apprenticeships and the completion of an undergraduate degree.

“As leaders at every level of government identify teacher preparation and recruitment as one of our nation’s most urgent priorities, we are excited to announce a replicable teacher pipeline model by partnering a school district, technical college and post-secondary institution – and customizing a future teacher’s high school course sequence and post-secondary experience,” said Henry County Schools Superintendent Dr. Mary Elizabeth Davis.

The first phase of the program calls on every Henry County Schools teacher to select a potential teacher in grades K-8. These students will participate in grade-appropriate activities each month to nurture their potential and provide real-time career development through hands-on teaching opportunities.

As students progress into high school, their exposure to the teaching profession will accelerate and become more formal through a prescribed Career, Technical and Agricultural Education (CTAE) pathway beginning in ninth grade. This high school experience will include dual enrollment coursework and hands-on teaching experiences, as well as the opportunity to have paid work-based learning in a Henry County school. The program will enable students to graduate from high school having earned up to 33 college credit hours through Southern Crescent Technical College at no cost to them.

Following graduation, eligible candidates may complete their undergraduate degree through a partner school such as Mercer while serving under the direct supervision of an experienced or retired teacher.

“What we’re doing here cannot be done by a single entity – it requires partnership,” said Dr. Koballa, who serves as dean of Mercer’s College of Education.

“This is what it’s all about – partners working together to keep students in Henry County,” added Dr. Irvin Clark, president of Southern Crescent Technical College.

About the College of Education

Mercer University’s Tift College of Education – with campuses in Macon, Atlanta and the University’s two regional academic centers – prepares more professional educators than any other private institution in Georgia. Named for the former women’s college that merged with Mercer in 1986, the College of Education offers baccalaureate and graduate degrees, and is guided by the conceptual framework of the “Transforming Educator,” which supports those who aspire to grow professionally throughout their careers, while also seeking to transform the lives of students. For more information, visit education.mercer.edu.

Featured photo courtesy Henry County Schools