From the Lee County Education Foundation
High School students in Lee County interested in pursuing careers as teachers are now eligible for up to $36,000 in college monies through a new program created by the Lee County Education Foundation and The Temple Sloan Family Foundation.
The new Temple Sloan Lee County Teaching Fellows program will award its first set of two “Sloan Scholars” beginning in 2024. The application opens Oct. 1.
LCEF board members recognized the post-Covid recruiting difficulties faced by Lee County Schools. That began an effort to find funding to create a program that would encourage Lee County’s best and brightest students to commit to becoming an educator, and to return home and begin a career in a classroom.
The Raleigh-based Sloan Foundation quickly stepped up to do just that.
“The Temple Sloan Family Foundation is proud to partner with the Lee County Foundation in providing the Sloan Lee County Teaching Fellows Scholarship,” said Temple Sloan Jr., a former Sanford resident who founded Carquest Auto Parts in 1961. “These scholarships will be given to deserving young students to inspire them to earn a teaching degree and encourage them to work in the Lee County school system. We firmly believe that a successful educational experience for our young people begins with outstanding teachers.”
As a leader in the auto parts supply business, Carquest grew to 3,000 auto parts stores, including about 1,300 company-owned stores which employed more than 14,000 people. Carquest was acquired by Advance Auto Parts in 2014.
Sloan founded The Temple Sloan Family Foundation in 1994. Today, it provides constructive support and grants to many organizations — notably scholarships based on merit and financial need to students pursuing undergraduate degrees.
Temple Sloan III, who helped grow the family business and is active on the Sloan Foundation board, will join the Lee County Education Foundation board.
As part of a larger program LCEF is developing alongside Lee County Schools and Central Carolina Community College, the scholarships will take the form of forgivable loans — similar to the process used in the statewide N.C. Teaching Fellows program. Scholarship recipients are expected to return to Lee County to teach; and all monies are forgiven after four years of teaching in a Lee County public school classroom.
In pursuing a teaching degree, Sloan Scholars may attend any state-supported college or university in pursuit of their teaching certificate.
In addition to $4,500 per semester in scholarship funds, the program will also include partnerships with teaching mentors, summer programming, and a variety of activities designed to engage Sloan Scholars with LCS and support their commitment to Lee County’s students and community.
Dennis Wicker, a founding board member of the Education Foundation, said the shortage of public school teachers in Lee County and across the state is well-documented.
“The Temple Sloan Teaching Fellows Program will have a tremendous impact in providing ‘home grown’ quality teachers here,” he said. “There is no doubt that such a program will enhance the performance of our future students. A heartfelt thanks to the Sloan family for their overwhelming generosity and support for their native Lee County. Also, deserving applause to CCCC and the Lee County Schools for partnering with the Foundation on this scholarship.”
LCEF Chairman Susan Keller — a member of the inaugural class of the N.C. Teaching Fellows program — agreed.
“A teacher shortage is perhaps the biggest challenge faced by our public schools,” Keller said. “Encouraging students to go into this rewarding and important field and incentivizing them to come back home will be a game-changer.”
The $4,500 per semester will be awarded to help pay for tuition, fees, and books. Students are expected to provide progress reporting and other information to the CCCC Foundation, which will be managing the scholarship monies. Should a student drop out of the program or decide not to return and teach in Lee County, monies will have to be repaid.
The inaugural Sloan Teaching Fellows application opens Oct. 1 and closes Feb. 15.
More information and eligibility requirements can be found at leecef.com.