Smithfield-Selma High seniors Carter Clever and Lilly Johnson each received Johnston County Public Schools’ first JoCo TEACH scholarship at a special check presentation at the school on Monday, May 22.
The Johnston County Board of Education voted unanimously to approve the creation of a scholarship for the Johnston County Teaching Educators And Coming Home (JoCo TEACH) program at their November 2022 meeting. The scholarship awarded Clever and Johnson $30,000 each towards their pursuit of higher education.
“We are incredibly proud of these young people,” said JCPS Superintendent Dr. Eric Bracy. “It’s humbling to see our own students vested in education and our school district. Today was a great day for Johnston County Public Schools.”
Johnson and Clever will each receive $10,000 per year for up to three years. When a student receives the JoCo TEACH scholarship, they make a three-year commitment to JCPS that, upon graduation from college, they will come back and teach at JCPS for a minimum of three years.
“The JoCo TEACH program was a wonderful opportunity for me,” said Clever. “One thing I would share with my younger peers in the program is to be dedicated to your studies. You’ll make great friends here, but make a commitment to your education and try to keep a balance between your friends and your studies and you’re sure to be successful.”
Established in 2019, JoCo TEACH is a program designed to invest in and recruit diverse students seeking a degree as educators. It provides a seamless pathway for students to earn their Associate Degree in Science in Teacher Education through Johnston Community College (JCC) while attending a traditional public high school.
Clever and Johnson are among the first group of students to graduate from the JoCo TEACH program, and are able to apply the scholarship money to the college of their choosing. They were awarded the scholarship in front of their family, their classmates in the JoCo TEACH program, JoCo TEACH Coordinator Suzanne Sweat, Smithfield-Selma High Principal David Allen, Smithfield-Selma High staff, JCPS Superintendent Dr. Bracy, and Johnston County Board of Education Chair Lyn Andrews.
“I want to encourage other people to take advantage of this program and to always work with the people who are around you,” said Johnson. “My classmates were vital to my success in this program and I am thankful for this opportunity.”
The JoCo TEACH program is the first of its kind in North Carolina and serves as a pilot to help train rising educators who will return to JCPS to serve as teachers. There are currently 50 students enrolled in JoCo TEACH. JCPS is the only traditional public school system in North Carolina with a program of this magnitude.
“We are incredibly proud of these students,” said Sweat. “We’re leaders in the district for future educators, and we want to make sure they want to come back and teach here with us one day.”