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funinthesun 07-07-2009 11:07 AM

Teaching in Rural North Carolina
Okay, so I am moving this summer to teach second grade in rural coastal North Carolina after teaching many years in an upper middle class suburb in upstate New York. What should I expect to be different? The same? I am walking into this blindly-I realize there will be diversity and cultural differences, but what else about the culture should I be aware of in order to be an effective teacher? Thanks to all who may give me some advice!

bkheim15 07-07-2009 11:14 AM

I'm from upstate NY too
and am now teaching in Fayetteville NC... There is no union down here. You will get paid much less money. School districts are by county and not by town. Rural towns, from what I know, are often compared to inner city situations and there for could be very different from a middle class suburb.

But...Southern hospitality and the people I have met and work with is wonderful!!!

Just curious what suburb did you teach in and why are you leaving NY? I'm from Henrietta.

There's prolly more I can share so let me know.

funinthesun 07-07-2009 11:20 AM

I am from the Binghamton area. My husband lost his job in January and our dream was to be near the Outerbanks. So, we just moved, and I have a job about an hour away from the ocean. I know about no unions and less pay. I am really interested in the attitudes towards education as well as the cultural differences. Are parents supportive? Will my coteachers be accepting of me since I am from the north? I am very flexible and pretty easy to get along with, so I want to fit in as much as possible, yet be able to share my ideas and philosophies of teaching. I am determined to not say, "We did it this way in NY". I can share in a quiet way!

sambrolaw 07-07-2009 11:46 AM


Can you say where you will be teaching more specifically? If you are in Northeastern part of the state (like Elizabeth City area), there is a lot of diversity. I can't tell you want will be the same or different. That area however is very poor. (It is actually a Teach for America site.) But if you are teaching on the Outerbanks, you won't be in a poor area. Right now, there are a lot of people upset with our temporary pay cuts and furlough time. When you will be, education may not be valuable. I will say, I teach in a very rural area in the pedimont, and I can tell that education is not valued in a lot of the children's households that I teach. Schools are schools. The staff you work with may be great, and they may not be. That's the way it would be anywhere.

NCteacher 07-07-2009 11:52 AM

You might be surprised at the number of teachers you work with who are from other areas. Many NC districts recruit heavily and have many teachers who are from the Northern states. You probably will experience some culture shock- but hopefully you will experience the warmth, welcoming and hospitality the South is famous for. Unfortunately, as in most extremely rural areas and urban areas, the struggle to make ends meet is the focus of the home....there simply isn't the energy or time to make education a priority. To be an effective teacher- keep an open mind. In my school, many of the teachers who come from other states- particularly unionized states- have a hard time adjusting and can be extraordinarily annoying constantly telling me and my co-workers how "wrong" things are in my school and how "right" things are in their state.

Good luck!

tammynj 07-07-2009 11:54 AM

Good luck with your move! As you say, you will likely find many differences, but will probably be surprised at the similarities, as well. I have from the NE, too, and plan to stay here, but I bet kids are kids are kids, no matter where they are from. They might think it's cool that you are from NY. I would hope that your new fellow teachers will accept you and learn from you, as you will from them.
Sounds like it will be an interesting experience. Best wishes!

ctj132 07-07-2009 12:19 PM

I'm from upstate NY too.
I am from Corning, NY and have been to Binghamton many times to watch my son wrestle when he was in high school. I have been in NC for six years now and live along the coast near Wilmington and teach in Jacksonville. I found I really had to make a conscious effort not to say we did it this way at my other school. I found fellow teachers welcoming and open. As others have said there is no union so some of the things we are asked to do at first were hard to adjust to after teaching in a state with a strong teachers' union. I love the school and people I work with and would never return to NY. As with any school in any state, you will have a combination of parents who are supportive of school and others who are not. Most of the families in my school are connected to the military so that presents other concerns that you need to beaware of in the classroom. 4 of my students had parents deployed in Iraq this year. One the most interesting things I found so far is that when there are only a few snow flurries the whole school goes outside to enjoy them. They very seldom have even flurries. We love the weather and enjoy the beach as well as traveling to the mountains. I would be happy to answer any other questions you have and help you in anyway I can.

bkheim15 07-07-2009 05:17 PM

ctj132 - good point about the snow! :D That was a LOT of fun this past winter!!!

As far as families and kids. Like was said before you're always going to have a mix. My population seems to be a bit challenging at times. I have a handful of students whose parents truly put education as a priority and are hands on, but unfortunately the majority are just barely making ends meet and have a bunch of family issues. In the later cases education seems to be put on a back burner. I have had to be like a parent (would be even if I didn't have kids with special circumstances :)) a mentor, and their teacher. Keeping up communication with parents regardless of their attitude in the beginning toward you and school is what has really gotten me through and helped in changing some parents attitudes towards us teachers and the education system.

Best of luck to you and I'm sure you will make it a success! That's what we do!!!

funinthesun 07-08-2009 06:54 PM

Thank you so much for all of the good wishes and good advice! I will be teaching in Bertie County, which I know nothing about. I will definitely keep my ears open and mouth shut-when it comes to how I am used to doing things! I am sure I will get used to the southern accent after awhile! I will keep everyone posted! I know I will just love it!

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