These include over 500 NBCTs who are part of a collaborative managed by the Center for Teaching Quality (CTQ), thousands of alumni of NCCAT
and Teaching Fellows, and a cohort of over 450 classroom experts identified a few years ago by the Department of Public Instruction to develop instructional and professional development resources.
When these educators arrive at NCCAT's headquarters in Cullowhee--across the street from Western Carolina University--they find a modern mountain lodge with a fully equipped gym, private bedrooms and bathrooms, a formal dining room that overlooks a tranquil pond, and a staff determined to make their stay enjoyable.
While NCCAT offers special programs for new teachers and advanced certification courses for veterans, it has become best known for weeklong, year-round seminars such as "Green Groceries: Edible, Medicinal, and Useful Plants," "Writing the Stories of Our Lives," and "Sweet Harmony: Music That Honors Diversity." What's more, says McDuffie, these renewal seminars, as the centers bills them, are not just geared to specialists in the subject areas.
That approach is in full swing one late afternoon recently, as the 20 teachers enrolled in "Sweet Harmony" sit encircled on the floor of an NCCAT seminar room.
The NCCAT staff focuses as well on the longer-range benefits for teachers.
In fact, an in-house survey of NCCAT participants for the three-year period ending in 2001 revealed that 93 percent had stayed in the profession, compared to 86 percent of all public school teachers in North Carolina.
It helps, school administrators say, that NCCAT picks up the entire tab.