Clemson University’s College of Education is offering a new residency program for students that the school hopes will address issues of teacher preparation and retention.
Education Dean George Petersen said the program has three objectives: better preparation for teachers, professional development of mentor teachers, and young teachers stay on the job longer because they’re better prepared.
Peterson said the college has been working on ways to address South Carolina’s teacher shortage, which he described as “almost a crisis situation.”
“If we can get high-caliber teachers ready and keep them, we are not only creating a mechanism and an ecosystem where our students are going to benefit by that, but we are also, in the long run, allowing schools to keep precious resources and use them for other things,” he said.
Peterson said it can cost a South Carolina school as much as $18,000 to replace one teacher.
Under the program, students will spend one year in the classroom with a mentor teacher in one of seven participating Upstate districts. They also will earn their required Master’s degree during that time.
“At the conclusion, they will have their undergraduate degree, they will do their residency,” he said. “They will then be awarded certification, and finishing their course work, they will also have a Master’s degree.”
The program also allows interaction with area teaching professionals and Clemson students.
“It becomes a unique model of K-12 and higher education working together to prepare teachers,” Petersen said. The program also allows future teachers to build relationships with the same school districts they may be submitting job applications to within the year.
“When they’re in a district like this and they have done a residency, at the conclusion, a lot of times those school districts want to hire these teachers because they’ve seen them over the course of a year,” he said. “So a lot of times it also helps the students in their ability to get gainful employment.”
Eventually, Peterson said he wants to expand the program to other school districts and open it to students from other state universities. So far, the participating districts include Anderson One, Anderson Three, Anderson Four, Anderson Five, Greenville, Oconee and Pickens Counties.
The program is made possible by a $10 million endowment from Lake City financier Darla Moore in memory of her father Eugene, after whom the School of Education is named. Moore’s father was a longtime teacher, coach and principal in Florence County.