New USC Initiatives Hope to Aid the Teacher Shortage, Bring Minorities Into Classrooms

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO)–  Thousands of teaching jobs are opening up this year and South Carolina has no one to fill them. The Teacher and Employee Retention Program, or TERI Program,  ends this year, and many teachers will be walking away. However, the state does not have enough certified teachers to fill all the classrooms.

A study shows nearly 6,500 teachers did not return to their teaching position for the 2016-2017 school year. That’s a 21% increase from the year before, and that number is projected to be a lot higher this year.  Last year, with all the teacher education programs combined, the state only graduated 1,700 certified teachers.

“There is a serious void across the nation. You have 7% of African American teachers in the entire country? That’s abysmal. So we need to do our part and this is our way of doing our part to fill a culturally, relevancy void,” Dr. Jennifer Clyburn Reed said, Dir. of the Center for the Education & Equity of African American Studies at USC. 

The University of South Carolina has rolled out many new programs to try to recruit millennials into the teaching career path. One of them is the Apple Core Initiative, which is geared towards historically underrepresented populations.

“Sometimes, just trying to navigate your way in a historically white institution can be problematic for students as well. So knowing all these barriers can prevent them from having success, we tried to outline ways we can provide support,” Margo Jackson said, Dir. of Student Diversity, Inclusion, and Engagement at USC.

The Apple Core Initiative also hopes to help retain teachers in the state. Research has shown many teachers who end up leaving the profession, do so within the first three years of having their own classrooms.  

“So, we’re looking at 4 years of support, from Apple Core at $3000 a year. But once you become a teacher in the state of South Carolina, from our program, you can go into Carolina TIP and that gives you an additional three years of support,” Clyburn Reed said.

Not only financial but also community support. So far, there are six enrolled in the Apple Core program starting in the fall. They are hoping to get four more before classes start and maybe even cohorts up to 20 in the next few years.

“Knowing that you can change the life of a child makes the biggest impact on the decision to do something like this or go into a career like this,” Clyburn Reed said.

Program organizers say it is important that teachers reflect their communities, and right now, only 7% of educators are minorities. To learn more about the program, visit Apple Core Initiatives Website here. 

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