Program Overview

 The North Carolina Innovative Statewide Program to Improve the Recruitment of Educators (NC INSPIRE) is a statewide alternative entry teacher recruitment and preparation program developed by the UNC General Administration - Center for School Leadership Development and funded by a US Department of Education Transition to Teaching grant (award number U350B110012).

NC INSPIRE’s focus is on recruiting highly qualified recent college graduates and mid-career professionals who have undergraduate or graduate degrees in mathematics or science to teach in middle schools and high schools in high-need school systems. We also recruit qualified college graduates to teach special education in grades K-12.

The NC INSPIRE Fellows Program has partnered with high-need Local Education Agencies (LEAs), also known as  school systems, in North Carolina who typically have openings for highly qualified teachers each school year. Although NC INSPIRE Fellow candidates are not guaranteed employment, these LEAs have committed to interviewing our finalists and hiring those they feel are a good fit for their schools, depending on available positions.

NC INSPIRE has also partnered with the schools of education at three UNC system campuses to provide online Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) programs which will enable NC INSPIRE Fellows to complete their teacher licensure requirements while they earn a master's degree. Fellows who already hold a master's degree or higher in Math, Science, or Engineering complete the NC TEACH licesure program for Lateral Entry teachers at East Carolina University. NC INSPIRE Fellows will receive tuition assistance that covers the in-state tuition for coursework up to a maximum of $4200.00 per fellow. (North Carolina requires that new residents live in the state for one year before being eligible for in-state tuition rates.)

The Application Process

NC INSPIRE Fellows Program applicants must complete a comprehensive application process to qualify for the program. Fellows must be qualified for both the NC INSPIRE Fellows Program and a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program applicable to their teaching area. They must also gain employment as lateral entry teachers at one of the NC INSPIRE partnering school systems (LEAs). Special Education teachers must pass the required Praxis II tests before they can be hired to teach. For more information on the application process and requirements, please visit the Apply to NC INSPIRE page on this site.

The Selection Process

The NC INSPIRE Fellows Program has a maximum of forty (40) fellowships to award each year statewide, so the selection process is quite competitive. Interested individuals are encouraged to submit complete application packets as soon as possible. NC INSPIRE applications will be screened for eligibility as they are received. Eligible candidates will be notified via email and an interview with the NC INSPIRE Fellows Selection Committee will be scheduled.

After the interview, selected candidates will be notified that they are finalists, for the NC INSPIRE Fellowship, pending the completion of a comprehensive background check and advised to begin applying for teaching positions at the partnering LEAs they listed on their preference form. NC INSPIRE will notify LEAs with the names and contact information of Finalists interested in teaching in their districts. Finalists will be awarded an NC INSPIRE Fellowship when they are hired by a partnering LEA.

The first forty finalists to secure teaching positions will be awarded a fellowship and advised to apply for admission to the appropriate MAT program. 

Professional Development for Lateral Entry Teachers

All NC INSPIRE Fellows begin their pre-service preparation by completing the Western Carolina University Online Professional Development for Lateral Entry teachers course. This self-pace modular online program introduces the new lateral entry teacher candidate to the essential tools they will need as beginning teachers including building classroom community, classroom management, working with parents and other school community members, lesson and unit planning around content, instructional strategies, and assessment. For more information about the course visit the WCU Online PD for LE webpage.

The Regional/Statewide Institutes

All NC INSPIRE teachers will attend the two-day NC New Teacher Support (NC NTSP) Regional Institute during the summer before they begin teaching and the three-day NC NTSP Statewide Institute in September after they begin teaching. These institutes are designed to orient participants to the teaching profession, build a strong sense of shared purpose, and provide the knowledge and skills critical to effectively performing the duties of a teacher. Topics addressed during the Summer Institute include: (1) the professional role of the teachers, the learner and the school; (2) curriculum and instruction: effective teaching strategies; (3) diversity; (4) exceptional children; (5) instructional technology; and (6) content area teaching methods.


All Fellows are are assigned an Instructional Coachs who will help guide them through the first two years of teaching. Coaches will meet with Fellows monthly to observe their teaching and offer advice on instructional methods, classroom management and other issues that come up during the session.

Professional Development

Fellows will attend professional development workshops each semester designed to accelerate their transition to the teaching profession. Examples of topics that may be covered in these workshops are: Classroom Management, Technology in Education, Differentiated Instruction, etc. Many of the workshops will be led by the coaches.

Professional Learning Communities

An important part of the NC INSPIRE transition to teaching program is the sharing of ideas and experiences with other fellows and coaches through an online Professional Learning Community (PLC).


When hired by an LEA, NC INSPIRE Fellows are recommended to the NC Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) for a lateral entry teaching license. This license is good for one year and is renewable for three years. During this three year period, lateral entry teachers must complete all requirements for full licensure, which includes college coursework and passing the appropriate Praxis II test. To renew the license each year, lateral entry teachers must complete at least six semester hours of coursework required for their license.

NC INSPIRE Fellows will complete licensure requirements through an online Master of Arts in Teaching program. While completing this program, they will simultaneously meet licensure requirements while earning a master’s degree. Fellows who already hold a master's degree or higher in the content area they are teaching will complete licensure requirements through the NC TEACH licensure only program at East Carolina University. NC INSPIRE participants will receive tuition assistance that covers the in-state tuition for coursework up to a maximum of $4200.00 per fellow. (North Carolina requires that new residents live in the state for one year before being eligible for in-state tuition rates.)

Teaching Commitment

NC INSPIRE Fellows must commit to teaching in a partnering high-need school system for a minimum period of three years. Failure to fulfill this commitment will require that the tuition assistance provided by the program be paid back in full.

We look forward to receiving your application to the NC INSPIRE program!