Future teachers sign contracts and receive scholarships to UNCP

Southeastern Community College Teacher Prep students Ana Reese Blake and Kennedy Strickland signed a contract signifying their commitment to becoming a teacher within the Columbus County school system. Friends, family and staff from SCC, Columbus County Schools and UNC Pembroke gathered in the lobby of Cartrette Building on June 24 for the Columbus County Schools Future Teachers Scholarship Presentation.  

Blake, a Tabor City native and recent graduate of South Columbus High School, is an honor student who graduated Summa Cum Laude and in the top 10% of her class. Blake was involved in Beta Club, Stallionettes, Literacy Club, National Honor Society and yearbook staff. 

Strickland, a Clarkton native and recent graduate of Columbus Career and College Academy, earned her associates of art, associates of art in teacher preparation, associates of science and associates of science in teacher preparation from SCC while in high school. She received academic awards in culinary, English and math courses. 

“I am so happy to be here today to honor our future educators,” said Anna Richardson, Teacher Prep Program Lead. “At Southeastern Community College, we are passionate about growing our own educators right here in our community. We value our very powerful partnerships with Columbus County Schools and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.” 

Richardson said the Teacher Prep program gives a foundational understanding of the teaching profession and exposes students to real world classrooms before they make the transition to four-year universities like UNCP. The Future Teachers Scholarship is funded by Columbus County Schools, and both Blake and Strickland will earn their degree in elementary education.

“From my own personal experience, one of the profound benefits of teaching is the opportunity to impact students’ lives,” Richardson said. “We are so proud of Ana and Kennedy for choosing this rewarding and important career and for starting their journeys here at Southeastern.”  

On her last day serving as CCS Superintendent, Dr. Deanne Meadows welcomed everyone to the Columbus County Schools Future Teachers Scholarship Presentation. She praised the partnership between CCS, SCC and UNCP that allows the “smoothest pathway” for students to earn their bachelor’s degree in education, when they would come back to CCS to teach upon graduation. 

“We need to continue to grow teachers in our community,” Meadows said. “We need those people who are connected to Columbus County, want to live here, be here, stay here and want to support their community.” 

SCC Executive Vice President Dr. Sylvia Cox said she loves celebrating student success and accomplishments especially when it comes to teachers and teaching within Columbus County Schools.  

“Teaching really is the career that keeps on giving,” Cox said. “We know that if we can get you to their campus [UNCP], they will surround you and love you. We know you will do well there.”  

Dr. Lisa Mitchell, Associate Dean of UNCP’s School of Education, said the teacher contract signing was a celebration of the teaching profession, recognition of Blake and Strickland’s accomplishments and commitment to Columbus County Schools. She said the signing event showed the support of education with this scholarship opportunity.  

“There was a shortage of roughly 6,000 teachers in North Carolina at the beginning of last year’s school year, and Columbus County is no different,” said SCC President Dr. Chris English. “We are in dire need, and we’re so grateful and honored to know that your career begins here and hopefully ends here like Dr. Meadows.” 

English said the UNCP is “the one university that partners so well with Southeastern Community College.”

Click here to see more photos from the signing event