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WCU Stories

A STEP in the right direction, WCU partners with Statesville High School for teaching mentorship program

By Julia Duvall

Students from Statesville High School visited WCU in October as part of the Students to Teachers Through Educator Pathways program, a partnership between WCU and Statesville High School to help recruit students from diverse backgrounds into the teaching profession.

For many students at Statesville High School, stepping onto the campus of Western Carolina University was the first college experience they have had.

In order to help recruit students from diverse backgrounds into the teaching profession, WCU has partnered with Statesville High School to form a program called Students to Teachers Through Educator Pathways.

“The purpose of STEP with WCU is to introduce teaching as a profession in diverse high schools where students might not have had the opportunity to see it as such,” said Jenny Stewart, WCU’s director of Student Success and STEP. “This program contributes to the College of Education and Allied Professions and WCU goals for inclusive excellence, and was designed to address the low number of students of color in teacher education programs and the teaching workforce across our state.”

The students in the program are part of a Teaching as a Profession class at their high school and made the campus visit to learn more about applying to college, student life and financial aid.

Using the Teaching as a Profession curriculum approved by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and specific college engagement activities, this program aims to increase the positive perceptions of teaching as a profession and college as a destination after high school.

“WCU and Statesville High School have answered the call from the state to diversify the teaching profession in North Carolina through this program,” Stewart said. “The state issued the DRIVE report in 2021 and it showed that half of students in North Carolina identify as students of color, but only 21% of teachers do, so we are trying to make a difference in that area.”

For more information about the STEP with WCU program, contact Stewart at

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