Wendy House spent 12 years working in the banking and finance industry, where she devoted a lot of her time to training employees and teaching clients how to manage their money. She ultimately realized that the teaching elements were what she enjoyed most about her job, so she decided to leave the business world and enter the classroom.
“I thought it would be really great to teach [finance] to the younger generation before they became 40 and they’re in your office and say, ‘I wish somebody had taught me this when I was in high school,’” she said.
The desire to teach in a high school classroom is what brought House — and many others — to the NC State College of Education’s Business and Marketing Education Initial Licensure Program.
Now in its 20th year, the 12-credit program provides a pathway for lateral-entry teachers who are already employed by a school district through a provisional license to obtain the necessary license to remain in the classroom permanently.
The coursework focuses largely on helping educators who already understand the content they are teaching develop the pedagogy needed to be effective in the classroom.
“The Business and Marketing Education program provides a critical service to the people of North Carolina,” said John K. Lee, Ph.D., head of the Department of Teacher Education and Learning Sciences. “These teachers are helping our students understand the core knowledge and practices that drive business and marketing professions, enabling students to prepare for the next steps in the development of their college and career skills.”
When you get to a certain place in your career and it’s not as fulfilling as it once was, you begin to look at different opportunities. Thankfully, I found education.
The NC State College of Education is the only school in the Triangle to offer licensure in business and marketing education. It is also the only college in North Carolina to offer a stand-alone, 100% online, non-degree program as a route to licensure for residency-licensed business and marketing teachers.
In order to obtain a license, enrolled teachers complete graduate-level work that meets degree competencies. The assignments are also all asynchronous, so teachers can complete the courses at their own pace and when it fits into their schedule, Program Coordinator Cheryl Caddell said.
“When we first started out, the students gave it its own slogan of saying, ‘I’m getting my license in my pajamas,’ because they didn’t have to come to campus,” Caddell said. “Teachers are grading at night. They do not have time to travel to on-campus sites.”
The online-only program attracts teachers from across North Carolina. Educators from at least 23 North Carolina counties were represented in the program during the Spring 2019 semester, according to Caddell.
Deniz Solakoglu, who completed the program in 2017, said the ease of accessing the coursework online and the ability to immediately put what he learned into practice in his classroom helped improve his pedagogy “tremendously.”
“I can’t imagine doing what I’m doing now without having gone through my time in the program,” said Solakoglu, who holds an undergraduate degree from the NC State Poole College of Management and who spent more than a decade working in banking and investments before teaching.
He taught for several years at Green Hope High School in Cary, and will join Green Level High School in Apex when it opens in August. He said he is grateful for that support and the opportunity to answer the call to teach.
“I was reflecting on my life and those who influenced me and helped me. I wanted to be a part of the education field and help shape future generations,” he said. “When you get to a certain place in your career and it’s not as fulfilling as it once was, you begin to look at different opportunities. Thankfully, I found education.”
Since the Business and Marketing Education Initial Licensure Program is designed for teachers who are already leading a classroom, much of the coursework incorporates their current students.
It was through one of these projects that House, who completed the program in 2017 and currently teaches at Middle Creek High School in Apex, learned how to differentiate her lessons to reach each student at their academic level.
“It’s something that I have used every semester and I use it more and more each year that I teach. I find different ways to differentiate and you find earlier cues for what types of learners students might be just by the way they react, and I learned those things in the course,” she said.
An average of nearly 80 teachers have enrolled in the program each year for the past five years. Because teachers have three years to complete the program and pass the subject area Praxis II exam and edTPA, about 30 licenses are awarded to participants annually.
The program has drawn almost an equal number of male and female teachers for four of the past five years and nearly half of all teachers who enrolled in the program since 2013 identified as part of a minority group.
“We are proud of the diverse nature of our Business and Marketing Education teacher students who represent and reflect the diversity of the students they are teaching in the classroom,” Lee said.
Caddell, who is the instructor for every course, also prides herself on providing one-on-one attention to each student as they navigate the program.
“If you take the program, we’re going to hold your hand. This is not something you’ve got to figure out on your own,” she said. “New teachers are scared — they’re scared of getting lost. We pride ourselves on not letting that happen.”