“There is always a need for new teachers, but the real need is for passionate teachers,” said Jeffrey Lerner, the principal of Union County Tech. “And many of the world’s best teachers have a clear and early calling to the profession. That was the impetus for our new Teacher Academy.”
UCTECH’s established early childhood development program, which features an on-campus pre-school – UCTykes – had become an increasingly popular choice for students. Many students said they chose the early childhood program in order to get a head-start on a teaching career. So the Union County district responded to the demand.
“We contacted Kean University with a proposal modeled on our Academy for Performing Arts. Students spend their first three years at UCVTS in a highly-structured program, and as seniors, they are dual-enrolled as freshmen at Kean, taking all of their courses on the university campus,” Lerner said.
“Under the leadership of Dr. Susan Polirstok, we’ve created a seamless transition. Kean professors will monitor and mentor our students, and work with our teachers on curricula that prepares students for college-level work, while laying a foundation for successful teaching careers,” he said.
UCVTS received more than 40 applications from students seeking to join the first class of ninth graders in the program. In 2016, when all classes are filled, the Teacher Academy will include approximately 80 students.
All students receive a notebook computer, which allows them to create a portfolio and chart their progress as they advance through their first three years of their high school education.
“It’s a unique partnership: Great for our students, great for parents who save money on their college education, and great for the teaching profession,” Lerner said.