Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Wilmington, NC (February 11, 2014) - The University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Watson College of Education Beginning Teaching Matters Project (BT Matters), won a $50,000 grant, the University announced today. The award, Emerging Issues Prize for Innovation in Education, was presented to the Watson team this morning at the annual Emerging Issues Forum held in Raleigh.

BT Matters seeks to address issues of teacher retention by immersing beginning teachers in the culture of their local community and providing them with a community-based network of support.

“We wanted to create a practical program that addresses how to help the teacher retention rate in North Carolina, that begins at a local level and has the potential to grow far beyond that throughout the state, and even nationwide,” said Ken Teitelbaum, Dean of the Watson College of Education. “Receiving this grant echoes that Watson is moving in the right direction and that this idea is one the educational community, and community-at-large really believe in.” 

Through BT Matters, beginning teachers with zero to three years of experience can meet monthly and will be guided by a professional learning communities model. Topics explored include what affecting teacher retention, learning about the culture of their local community, and resources that will support and enhance classroom instruction.

Watson College’s Jeff Ertzberger, Director of Technology, Somer Lewis, Teacher-in-Residence, doctoral candidate Claire King, and undergraduate Gary Wright wrote the BT Matters proposal. Itwas selected as a finalist among other contenders from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina Greensboro, and Mitchell Community College.

The Watson College team first learned about this opportunity when Alison Hawkins from the Institute for Emerging Issues presented at UNCW’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship late last year.

The Institute for Emerging Issues partnered with the State Employees Credit Union to award four $50,000 prizes in education, health, environment, and economy as they relate to improving the teacher experience and North Carolina’s education systems. The inaugural SECU Prize for Innovation challenges students throughout North Carolina to develop new and innovative ways to support our state’s K-12 teachers.