Guilford County Schools seniors in Teacher Cadet programs at Western and Page High Schools spent the year partnering with veteran teachers to learn about being an educator. 

Just days before their graduation, Alan Hooker, the director of recruiting for Guilford County Schools, surprised 16 of these students with job offers. 

"We are so proud to be able to have you as part of our family and our village and we thank you for the work that you've done to encourage students," Hooker said. "We're so excited about your bright future that we've decided to offer you an early contract."

The students received two offers. The first would allow them to be a substitute teacher in the district immediately after graduating high school. The second is for a permanent position once they’ve completed a four-year degree. 

“We have a philosophy that everyone has had one individual in their life that's made a difference," Hooker said. "And we believe in Guilford County Schools that we are in search of that one.”

That applies to Shane Rogers, one of the graduating seniors, who credits a former middle school teacher with his decision to be an educator. 

“He really inspired me to always make people feel comfortable with themselves, to like, instill in people that you can do anything you want to," Rogers said. "So that's really just what I want to do. Just be a safe place for kids. To say, like, 'You can do whatever you want.'”

In the Teacher Cadet program, Rogers worked at the Newcomers School, which serves recently arrived immigrant and refugee students. 

“At first it was just like trying new things and experiences because I like learning as much as I can. But then I started growing with the kids and the people that I started to be around, and it was a really cool experience," Rogers said. 

He said he would like to one day teach at the elementary school level.

Amy Diaz covers education for WFDD in partnership with Report For America. You can follow her on Twitter at @amydiaze.

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