Game Changer

The first students headed to class at UNC Charlotte weren’t undergraduates, but 55 high school freshmen. They’re here tapping into a unique opportunity: the Charlotte Teacher Early College (CTEC).

Earlier this month, the University launched the cutting-edge partnership with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS). The innovative program is serving CMS students interested in an education career, setting the future workforce up for success in today’s classrooms.

It launches at a critical time. For years, the region’s teacher pipeline has been shrinking. Across the state, enrollment in education programs has been in decline, while the need for qualified teachers is increasing exponentially.  UNC Charlotte’s Cato College of Education is addressing this issue head-on.

Students from CTEC

“Ensuring our local school systems consistently have available a well-trained, passionate group of new teachers is an important part of what we do," said Ellen McIntyre, dean of the Cato College of Education. “With the opening of CTEC, we are proud to be part of a creative new approach to doing just that.” (Pictured: CTEC students outside Cato College of Education)

The five-year program is unique in North Carolina, and one of a handful throughout the country. It immerses students in field-based activities and curriculum, equipping them for achievement in contemporary urban classrooms. Nested in Cato College, students get a front row seat to “college life” and University resources. Graduates receive a high school diploma, plus an Advanced Standing in Education certificate and at least 60 hours of college credits - transferrable to any public North Carolina institution.

Sound familiar? The University is further expanding on success of the Charlotte Engineering Early College (CEEC), a similar CMS partnership launched in 2013.  It trains future workforce engineers in a city with much demand, right beside UNC Charlotte’s Lee College of Engineering. This year’s 75 high school seniors have achieved an average 3.2 GPA and 16 college credit hours.  

UNC Charlotte opens the Charlotte Teacher Early CollegeUNC Charlotte Chancellor Philip L. Dubois said, “The Charlotte Teacher Early College plays an essential role in bolstering the teacher pipeline of our region and state. UNC Charlotte is committed to exploring innovative and collaborative approaches to creatively address community needs. The success of the Charlotte Engineering Early College is a perfect example of how such partnerships can have far-reaching and beneficial impact."

Both early colleges are CMS magnet schools and allow students the opportunity to invest in career pathways responsive to community needs. Future plans include building one facility to house both early colleges, backed by a combination of private and state funding. 

(Pictured from left: Professor Mike Putman, Will Leach, principal of CTEC and CEEC, CMS Superintendent Clayton Wilcox, Professor Jim Cook, Chancellor Phil Dubois, Executive-in-residence Bill Anderson and Cato College Dean Ellen McIntyre were on hand to welcome the first class of students enrolled in the Charlotte Teacher Early College.)