The University of Mount Olive’s Homegrown Teacher Academy is for students that grew up in Duplin County and plan to return there after graduation to make an impact on the next generation of students. Funded by the Kenan Charitable Trust, and supported by other charitable organizations, the Academy is a collaboration between the University of Mount Olive, James Sprunt Community College, and Duplin County Schools to create a seamless pathway for students to complete their degrees in education.
UMO Associate Professor of Education Dr. Tommy Benson said, “This initiative was developed to address the shortage of teachers in the Duplin County system.”
Currently 11 members strong, the UMO students that are part of the Homegrown Teacher Academy are: Esmerelda Lopez Perez from North Duplin Junior-Senior High, Noah Oakes from North Duplin Junior-Senior, Ashlynn Hardison of Harrells Christian Academy, Noah Haney from James Kenan High, Andrew Cruse from North Duplin Junior-Senior, Brianna Hinnant from North Duplin Junior-Senior, Melissa Smith from North Duplin Junior-Senior, Nick King from James Kenan High, Adrianna Zepeda from James Sprunt Community College, Montana Baysden from East Duplin High, and Angela Boone from James Kenan High.
According to Benson, one of the group’s goals is to give back to the community through projects that can benefit students, faculty, and staff in Duplin County. Seeing a recent need within the County for basic school supplies, the Homegrown Teacher Academy took action. They solicited donations from churches, businesses, and individuals. Assistant Professor of Education Gail Herring said, “The response has been overwhelming.”
Herring noted that donations have included pens, pencils, sharpeners, erasers, paper, notebooks, folders, binders, hand sanitizer, and more. “Through hard work and determination, the students collected enough supplies to distribute to all of the elementary schools in Duplin County. They will then be dispersed by the teachers as students’ needs arise,” she shared.
“Giving back to the schools and communities that helped raise me has been a rewarding experience,” said Academy member Melissa Ann Smith. “Our academy has many members who have siblings and relatives who are still in the school system. We understand the difficult times these children are going through, and we hope to provide them with the right materials to do their online work so they can succeed this semester and in the years to come.”
For more information on the Homegrown Teacher Academy, contact Gail Herring at GHerring@umo.edu.