CULLOWHEE – When Western Carolina University began its degree completion program in elementary education at Tri-County Community College in Murphy four years ago, Julie Norcross knew that she had finally found the program she had been waiting for.
“I was very excited when I learned about the program,” the Robbinsville resident says. “The fact that it’s offered so close to home definitely made all the difference.”
When Norcross attended college for the first time, straight out of high school, she originally earned a degree in business management from Berea College in Kentucky.
But Norcross always wished she had made a career in education, even after marriage and motherhood came along.
“I just like working with kids,” she says. “When you can explain something to a child and they really learn it, that’s pretty great!”
When her son started kindergarten, she herself decided to head back into the classroom, at first as a volunteer. She was then hired at Robbinsville Elementary School as a substitute teacher, and is currently a teacher’s assistant in Amy Hampton’s third grade class.
Norcross attends classes at TCCC’s Graham County site two evenings per week, taking classes through instructional television so that she can soon teach in her own classroom.
“Without the Western and Tri-County program, I would’ve never gone back to earn this degree, and I would’ve always wished that I had,” she says.
Western and TCCC will start the program again in spring semester 2005, beginning this January. Students in the program will work toward a bachelor’s degree in education or teacher licensure in elementary education.
Classes will be offered at TCCC using on-site classroom instruction and Web-enhanced instruction.
The program is open to persons who hold an associate’s degree who wish to complete a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, as well as those who have earned bachelor’s degrees and want to obtain K-6 licensure.
Norcross has already recommended the program to teacher assistants she works with at Robbinsville Elementary.
“I’m glad there’s going to be another cohort. I would recommend it to anybody,” said Norcross. “And I’ve made a lot of really good friends that I wouldn’t have known otherwise.”
For more information on the spring 2005 program, contact Western’s Division of Distance and Continuing Education at (828) 227-7397, or toll free at (800) 928-4968.