12/28/07 — Sprunt links with UNC-W to increase teachers

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Sprunt links with UNC-W to increase teachers

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on December 28, 2007 2:12 PM

With Duplin County and the rest of North Carolina facing an ever-increasing teacher shortage, one man has been given the responsibility by officials at both James Sprunt Community College and the University of North Carolina at Wilmington to increase the number of people joining the ranks of the state's educators.

"I was hired because there is a need to get more teachers," said Jorge Trujillo, an academic advisor and recruiter at James Sprunt.

His position, he explained, is mostly funded by UNC-W, but the space and equipment is provided by James Sprunt.

"I was hired to make sure all the students coming to James Sprunt for their associate degrees are taking the classes they need to take so they are getting the most benefit. I want to work with people so if they do decide to go to James Sprunt, they know how find information and what classes to take," he said. "I am the contact between Duplin County and UNC-W. I was hired to enhance the relationship between this county and UNC-W."

Trujillo is a familiar face in Duplin County, where he has spent five years teaching English-as-a-second-language to children at Warsaw Elementary and adults at James Sprunt, and three years teaching Spanish at East Duplin High.

He hopes that his experience in the county and the fact that he's a minority male will help him reach students who may otherwise be overlooked.

His goal is to help guide and advise those people, from students in middle and high school, to teacher assistants, to professionals looking to begin teaching through lateral entry, as to how best to become qualified. He also helps them find financial aid so they can further their education.

And, even though his main focuses are elementary education, special education, early childhood development and the middle grades, he can also help advise and direct those interested in teaching at the high school level.

He explained that UNC-W's Donald R. Watson School of Education has decided to work with James Sprunt and other community colleges in order to increase its accessibility.

"The cost for the basic study classes is much lower," Trujillo said. "People can do this first and then finish their bachelor's degree (at UNC-W)."

In fact, he continued, the goal is to eventually offer all the bachelor's of education classes at James Sprunt, much like is currently being done at Coastal Community College in Jacksonville.

"I was hired to see if we'd have enough interest and enough numbers to have our own program here. And I think we could. There are a lot of people in the community interested in becoming teachers, but they get lost along the way because there's not a person to help them through their questions," he said. "I'm working hard to have that here because there are a lot of people who want to become teachers but who have responsibilities here and can't drive to Wilmington or Jacksonville."

One such distance-learning class will be offered in the fall of 2008.

"I think there's going to be a lot of interest," he said.

He also invited people to come learn more about the cooperative program during a presentation by the Watson School at the county Board of Education meeting at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 8.

For more information, Trujillo can be reached at his office at James Sprunt at (910) 296-1520 or trujilloj@uncw.edu.