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Cullowhee, NC 28723
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828.227.7090 fax
ofe@wcu.edu

 
Applying FAQs

1.  WHAT SHOULD I DO BEFORE I APPLY FOR INTERNSHIP or STUDENT TEACHING?

Think ahead.  Many required documents take a long time to acquire.  Begin working on your application materials as soon as the semester before your internship begins.

Plan far ahead (early in your program) to be certain you qualify for application.  Applications that do not qualify will be returned and no placement will be requested. At the time of application, undergraduates must:

  • Be fully admitted to the Teacher Education Program - including meeting the Praxis I requirement

The following my be waived under certain circumstances with permission from the Director of Field Experiences prior to the deadline:

  • Meet program GPA requirements
  • Have completed ENGL 201 (or equivalent) with at least a "C" (C- does not count)
  • Have completed either PSY 323 or SPED 339 - again with at least a "C"

2.  WHEN SHOULD I APPLY FOR INTERNSHIP or STUDENT TEACHING?

Students who wish to begin internship or student teaching must apply by the deadlines in the semester before your internship is to begin.   These applications take several days - even weeks -  to complete so get started at the beginning of the semester.

3. WHAT SCHOOLS ARE AVAILABLE FOR RESIDENTIAL PROGRAM STUDENTS (Including commuters - status is based on program)?

You can find the list here:  Public School Contact Information.

Note that if Buncombe County is among your selected school systems you need to submit additional health forms with your application found on the application process web page.

Distance students may encounter additional fees required by the school system in which they request placement.  These fees are the responsibility of the student.
Students asking to be placed outside the region can appeal to the Director of Field Experiences for "severe hardships other than financial."  Students are still responsible for attending the related seminar class - on campus for undergraduates - and there may be additional costs involved.  To be eligible to make an appeal, the candidate must have a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA and must have completed required coursework.  A letter of support must accompany the request from the WCU Department Head or WCU Program Coordinator.  The appeal must be made in writing to the Director of Field Experiences at the time of application and will be reviewed by the Placement Appeals Committee (Associate Dean, Director of Field Experiences, and a representative from the teacher candidate's program/department).  All decisions of the Appeal Committee are final.  

4. SHOULD I VISIT SCHOOLS?

No. Schools request that students not visit.  Check information on the school website instead.

5. MAY I ARRANGE MY OWN PLACEMENT?

No. Each internship or student teaching placement requires a formal agreement between Western Carolina University and the respective school district. Because of the legal nature of this agreement, students are prohibited from acting on their own behalf to arrange a student teaching placement. The Office of Field Experiences will do our best to accommodate your needs and preferences when arranging your student teaching placement.
When you complete your student teaching application, you may indicate your preference for a placement in a school system or in a specific school. Please understand, however, that schools are not always able to honor these requests.
You can request a specific teacher on your TaskStream application.  However, remember that the teachers do not make the placement decisions.  There are no guarantees that these requests can be honored.

6.  WILL I NEED TO COMPLETE A CRIMINAL HISTORY or BACKGROUND CHECK? 

At the time of making application for internship / student teaching, all teacher candidates are required to submit background checks from CertifiedBackground.com. See our Background Check Policy for details and package codes. 
All incidents on background check reports, including dismissals and pending charges, will be shared with schools, teachers, and WCU program administrators as needed for the placement.
Teacher candidates who are employed in their internship placement sites and already have a background check report on file in their schools/districts do not need to apply for an additional background check through the Office of Field Experiences.  This will be certified through a separate Site Supervisor Form.

7.  WHY DO I NEED TO SUBMIT A RESUME WITH MY APPLICATION? 

A resume allows a prospective principal and/or cooperating teacher to learn more about you and your experiences.  A well-written resume can be an important factor in helping you achieve the placement you desire. Be sure to take the time that is required to write a clear, grammatically correct, and well-organized resume. 
Do NOT indicate a specific school, system or even region in your objective statement.
We strongly recommend you visit Career Services to help put your resume together prior to submitting it with your application. 

8.  WILL I BE INTERVIEWED FOR MY INTERNSHIP or STUDENT TEACHING? 

There is no formal interview process for internship or student teaching, however, some schools do interview potential interns and student teachers just as they do for any of their positions.  Candidates are expected to treat these as professional job interviews.  

9. WHY DO I NEED VOICE MAIL? 

School personnel may contact you regarding interview appointments or schedule changes.
Have a professional voice mail introduction that at least includes your first name. 
Be certain that your ringback tone is not offensive. 
Check messages before returning a call.  Calling back with “I received a call from this number” is less than helpful since school phones can be used by many different people. 
If you call a school, always begin by introducing yourself and identifying yourself as an education student at Western Carolina University.

10. WHO MAKES THE FINAL DECISION ABOUT WHERE I WILL BE PLACED?

The Director of Field Experiences will review application packets and request placements with school personnel. The student teacher's placement preferences (as stated on the student teaching application), program policies, the availability of cooperating teachers, the availability of qualified university supervisors, and the geographical proximity of potential host schools, and other factors are all taken into consideration when determining placements.

The school or school system makes the final approval for each placement based on available teachers and school needs.  The final decision may, as in real teaching jobs, involve being placed in a grade or location that is not your preference.  As this is the principal's decision, requests for specific grades and specialty areas within the licensure area may not be accommodated.  Placements are made in the licensure area.

11. WHY IS IT DIFFICULT TO GET MY FIRST REQUESTED SCHOOL?

Unprofessional behavior in past placements or in the application packet presentation/interview or severe issues on a background check can make placements difficult or even impossible.  But the primary reason is that this is a very rural area with relatively small schools.  They can only comfortably host a few students.  Specialty areas are even harder to place.  Schools in Jackson, Haywood, Macon and Swain counties tend to be overwhelmed with requests and have to turn some down just based on numbers.  We expect professional applications and behavior when a potential school contacts you for an interview.  We will attempt three placements.  Beyond that, a student may have to postpone a semester.  Take this process as seriously as a job search – because it is.

12. HOW DO I FIND OUT ABOUT MY PLACEMENT?

You will be individually emailed or called (again we need voice mail) when your specific placement is confirmed by the school or school system and given the name of the school and teacher.  There will also be an e-mail on the last day of classes with the status of your placement and additional information.  Please note that every semester some placements have been confirmed after the end of the semester.  It takes 1-3 months from the deadline to confirm placements.  Timing depends on how long it takes for schools to get back in touch with us and how many placement attempts we need to make for the individual so it is quite possible that all of your friends will have their placements before yours is confirmed.  Please do not contact the office with requests for updates as this slows down the overall placement process.  We will contact you with any problems or questions.
Every semester there are some placements that must be changed after confirmation due to personnel changes and other circumstances beyond our control.  Affected students will be notified as soon as possible about these changes.

13. I DIDN'T GET MY FIRST CHOICE.  WHY WASN'T I PLACED AT MY SECOND CHOICE? 

Depending on your program and other factors, generally, our first placement request will be made at one of your top three choice schools.  We will be making other requests at the other two schools at this same time.  So frequently with our most popular schools, if you are turned down by the first placement request, the other two are already full with their first requests and have also had turn downs.  For this reason we may ask you for additional preferences at the school system level to assist us with additional requests as needed.

14. WHEN CAN I VISIT THE SCHOOL WHERE I WILL BE INTERNING OR STUDENT TEACHING?

Once you've been notified by our office that your placement is confirmed, you are free to contact your cooperating teacher and encouraged to do so.  School contact information is available on the web.  Be certain to call after classes or ask the secretary for planning period information.  Many school systems also provide e-mail addresses on their web pages.

15. CAN I BE REMOVED FROM MY INTERNSHIP?

During the Internship/Student Teaching experience principals and school system administrators have the right to terminate the experience at any time.  Prior to termination, an action plan may be put in place to give the Candidate the opportunity to focus on areas of concern.  In extreme cases termination may be immediate.  Maintaining professional standards, meeting all requirements in a timely manner, and clear communication with the cooperating teacher are the best ways to prevent termination.  See the NC Code of Ethics.
Be aware that inappropriate Facebook posts and "friending" students are grounds for immediate termination.
 

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