CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is still scrambling to hire more teachers even though its students head back to school next week.
"We have to do something," said Principal Will Leach, who oversees UNCC's Early College for Teachers.
The new program is the first of its kind in North Carolina. It is designed to make up for CMS' teacher shortage.
The program's first class for the school year started this month. Its 50 students will be ready to start teaching in seven to eight years.
"There needs to be more good teachers," 14-year-old student Brody Tingle said.
Leach wants to plug the gap left by CMS teachers who are leaving for cities, such as Fort Mill, where they can easily make an extra $5,000 a year.
Channel 9's Mark Barber asked Leach, "What can you do to try to keep these new teachers from leaving CMS?"
"I think the one thing is the culture and the working environment, making sure they understand it's a positive environment,” Leach said.
The teaching program's unique environment at UNCC is anything but typical for a high school classroom.
"I know I'm missing out on a lot of regular high school, but the risk is good because I can have a free year of college," Landy Solorozano said.
The students are trading in social high school experiences, such as band class, so they can get specialized teacher training instead.
"This week, we've gone through how do you design your classroom, what are the different learning styles, if you're left brain or right brain, how do you learn different?,” Leach said.
The school doesn't know how many of its students will ultimately teach for CMS because this is the program's first year and there is nothing else with which to compare it.
Officials hope 70-80 percent of their students will go on to teach for CMS after they graduate.
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