SNOW HILL, N.C. (WNCT) – Across the country, highly qualified teachers are leaving the classroom. Many of them leave after only a couple years of teaching.

“It’s not just here, it’s everywhere, everyone, people, teachers are like ‘ehh, it’s just too hard,’ and yes, it is a hard job, but our babies need us,” said Keiara Morris, Greene County Middle School’s assistant principal.

Now, the North Carolina New Teacher Support Program is helping new teachers statewide and several in Eastern North Carolina to stay in the classroom. But where is the shortage coming from?

“We are seeing a decrease in the traditionally prepared students, but we’re seeing an increase in the lateral entry programs for folks who have a degree or have other careers and want to be teachers,” said Dr. Art Rouse, interim dean of the College of Education at East Carolina University.

“What we’re also seeing is an increase in people leaving the profession,” said Dr. Pat Conetta, the director of the N.C. New Teacher Support Program. “Those two things together are leaving this dearth of educators.”

A lack of teachers is why the support program is needed.

“It’s helping teachers after they move their tassels,” Conetta said. “Teachers who are supported through the new teacher support program were statistically more likely to return to the profession in the following year. That to me is revolutionary because it stops the leak we’re seeing in North Carolina.”

Nearly 1,500 beginning teachers are enrolled statewide in the program that collaborates with local universities like ECU. Every Greene County teacher in their first to third year is enrolled in this program.

“Those are the times when teachers are statistically most likely to leave the profession,” Conetta said.

“We recognized the need to invest in our human capital and we went for it,” Morris said. “Why not? If we invest in our people, they’ll stay.”

Shenita Dove, a Greene County Middle School teacher, is in the program.

“I was a division director for an organization in Durham for 17 years,” Dove said. “I worked with adults with developmental disabilities, and I knew that if they had interventions earlier on in life, they would have a more productive life.”

In the support program, Dove works with a regional coach.

“The coaching doesn’t look the same for any teacher, it’s dependent on the classroom and what is happening in that teacher’s life or curriculum,” said Cameron Gupton, the ECU Region Instructional Coach. “For Ms. Dove and I, that is really resource sharing and integrating technology into the lessons.”

“He offers a lot of support with whatever I’m teaching,” Dove said. “He also gives me feedback on what my classes look like, and it’s some things other than teaching resources honestly. It’s just having that support.”

It’s that support that’s not only keeping teachers in the classroom but also helping to shape the minds of our future.

“A large number of them have reported that our support has been the reason they’ve stayed in the classroom,” Gupton said. “They are our future, and they’re preparing for jobs that we don’t even know what they look like yet. So, to have teachers who are effective and quality teachers to teach them and prepare them for a future we’re not sure of, is very important.”

This success all starts with a little extra attention to the beginning teachers.

“Everyone needs those people to pat you on the back and cheer you on,” Morris said. “It makes me smile to know our kids are getting what they need. That they are receiving the support, the resources, the materials, the love that they need.”

“I’m trying to find the words because just seeing the children from the beginning of the year to the end of the year because we all learn differently,” Dove said. “Just knowing they have someone who will take the time out and put in whatever effort it takes to learn, I just can’t even explain how good it makes me feel because just seeing them achieve their goal, makes me feel great.”