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School system hopes to recruit, retain teachers through new master’s program and scholarships at Catawba

Catawba College and the Rowan-Salisbury School System announced a partnership today that will allow 20 Rowan-Salisbury math and science teachers to receive master’s degrees in education tuition-free.

According to Superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody, the program, slated to start in the spring of 2016, would be one of the few STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — masters programs in the southeast.

The college is still working on exact details, but Dr. Jim Stringfield, dean of Catawba’s Goodman School of Education, said the 33-credit-hour program would likely take two years to complete, and would focus on content, tapping into Catawba’s math, science and technology programs; teaching theory and practices; and research.

A $300,000 gift from Fred Stanback will provide full-tuition scholarships for 20 Rowan-Salisbury teachers, if they commit to stay with the district for at least five years.

While the degree program wouldn’t be restricted to Rowan-Salisbury teachers, the scholarships would be.

“When we invest in our teachers, we invest in our children,” said Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum Julie Morrow.

Teachers who attended the Friday press conference were excited.

Elizabeth Henley, who teaches sixth grade math at West Rowan Middle School, just started taking graduate classes at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

“The cost is astronomical,” she said.

Henley added that the unique thing about the program is that it focuses on math and science teachers who want to stay in the classroom rather than move into leadership positions.

Moody said she hopes the program will help the Rowan-Salisbury School System recruit and retain high-quality teachers. The district currently has nine openings for science and math teachers.

“I hope that science and math teachers will see that Rowan-Salisbury is an exciting place to teach,” she said.

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