UNC Pembroke recently hired Dr. Carol Higy as director of its Teaching Fellows Program.
Dr. Higy has 25 years of experience in higher education and in the public schools, including coaching, teaching and administration. Her last stop was as assistant principal at a Cumberland County middle school.
UNCP's eight-year-old Teaching Fellows Program competes for students from a pool of talented high school seniors, who receive a $26,000 state-funded loans in return for a four-year commitment to teach in the public schools.
"I can pull from all my professional experiences and utilize those skills here," Dr. Higy said. "I am very comfortable with recruiting prospective Teaching Fellows because of my background in coaching."
Dr. Higy also knows UNCP. From 1996-1998, she was coordinator of the Freshman Seminar Program, which is a required course to orient new students to academic and university life.
She said returning to UNCP is like coming home.
"Looking at the faculty mentors in the program, I see people I have already worked with," Dr. Higy said. "Having served as coordinator of the Freshman Seminar Program, I know what students need to make it at this level."
The new director has 49 students under her wing this fall and a growing program since its start in 1994.
"The goal of the Teaching Fellows Program is to bring in the best teacher recruits possible and to give them an opportunity to have experiences in other areas that they would not have in general education," she said. "The program strengthens the entire university by bringing in outstanding scholars and building innovative programs."
Teaching Fellows are served up an enriched diet of seminars, cultural experiences, field experiences and travel, funded by the state and UNCP. A mentor program pairs Teaching Fellows with faculty mentors who supply students with academic support, advisement and research opportunities. They are also provided the use of a laptop computer.
Dr. Higy plans to expand on the mentoring concept with an e-mail program that will match up UNCP Teaching Fellows with master teachers throughout North Carolina.
"The main purpose of this new mentorship program is to allow students to take any questions and concerns they have about certain areas of education to a teacher or teachers already working in those fields and to develop a dialogue," she said.
She also plans to involve UNCP Teaching Fellows more actively in the recruitment process.
"I want our students to take more of a leadership role with their own program, including recruitment," Dr. Higy said. "Our successful Teaching Fellows are the best salesmen for our program."
Dr. Higy said UNCP's Teaching Fellows are a talented and enthusiastic group, and the newest recruits are doing well.
"The students are great, and I see a great deal of potential in them," she said. "In the few weeks since school began, I have already seen considerable growth in our freshman class."
New Teaching Fellows arrive for orientation earlier than other students to get to know each other and to attend seminars and sessions about the program.
"They're very eager and extremely enthusiastic," Dr. Higy said. "All the students in our Teaching Fellows Program are extremely positive."
She credits previous Director Irene Aiken for building a strong program.
"Dr. Aiken did a fantastic job of infusing energy into the program," Dr. Higy said. "She put this program on the map."
Besides her duties with the Teaching Fellows, Dr. Higy will teach in the School of Education. She is currently teaching a graduate class in school administration and a undergraduate course in elementary classroom management and assessment.
An Akron, Ohio, native, Dr. Higy earned a doctorate in education administration and a Master's in Education from the University of Akron and a Bachelor of Science degree from Malone College in Canton, Ohio.