CULLOWHEE – Mike Treadway, who grew up in Bryson City, is fulfilling a dream. Asheville native, Cedric Nash, is fulfilling a promise to his father. Ben Garner from Person County is finally following in his parents’ footsteps.
All are students in the North Carolina Teachers of Excellence for All Children program offered through Western Carolina University. The program, better known as NC TEACH, employs qualified mid-career adults as “lateral entry” teachers while they’re taking education courses that lead to full licensure.
Nash, who left North Carolina with a degree from High Point University, worked in Texas for more than 10 years after a two-year hitch in the Army. He came back to Asheville to teach in the city schools because he’d promised his dad that he would do so someday. He’s teaching at-risk students in the Asheville City School system while taking graduate-level courses at Western.
Treadway earned a degree from Mars Hill College and went to work in sales. He said he wanted to be a teacher so badly that he quit his job and went back to college as a freshman. Starting from scratch didn’t work, so Treadway became a teaching assistant in Swain Middle School and then got an “emergency license” to teach in the high school. Now, through NC TEACH, he’s working with special education students in Swain County and expects to graduate from Western in May with a Master of Arts in Teaching degree.
Garner, whose parents are educators in Person County, served as a substitute teacher during university breaks and holidays while he earned his degree in criminal justice from Western. He applied to NC TEACH twice, but his service in the National Guard intervened, taking him first to Afghanistan and then to Iraq. With the third attempt, he got into the program and now teaches special education at Waynesville Middle School.
“NC TEACH is aimed for people like Garner and his colleagues,” says Janice Holt, coordinator of NC TEACH at Western. “The program helps professionals who want to make a career change and who want to make a difference in society.”
A previous career outside the classroom is an asset both for adults who want to teach and for their students, according to NC TEACH participants. “In this program, you’re treated like an adult,” Treadway says. “They recognize that you’ve lived a little bit, you’ve got some experience and something to impart in the classroom.”
Nash agrees, saying, “You bring along life experiences that younger teachers right out of college wouldn’t have.”
And the NC TEACH participants are winning rave reviews from their employers. “Ben Garner is one of the finest teachers I have ever seen,” said Bill Nolte, Waynesville Middle School principal. “His military experience is a wonderful asset to the school, and he has a number of leadership skills that make him and the school more effective.”
Garner captures the essence of NC TEACH in just a few words. “I love my work,” he says. Teaching is the best job I’ve ever had.”
Western is holding an open house for NC TEACH in the Laurel Forum in Karpen Hall at the University of North Carolina at Asheville on Thursday, Feb. 3, from 6 until 7:30 p.m. To attend the open house, contact Western’s Asheville office at (828) 251-6642, or send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org . For more information about NC TEACH, phone (828) 227-3310 or go to www.ceap.wcu.edu/ncteach