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OnPoint with Cynthia Hardy (WACH Fox), Coping with Teacher Shortages

From left to right: Cynthia Hardy, Walter Griffin (SC Certified Teacher), Craig King (Palmetto State Teacher Association), Javion Simpson (SC Certified Teacher), Dr. Tondaleya Jackson (Director of the Center for Excellence in Educator Preparation and Innovation at Voorhees University, SC Certified Teacher), and Chelsea Maclin, Honali Adrian Robinson, and Aliska Brown (Center for Excellence in Educator Preparation and Innovation at Voorhees University Pathway Participants). 

Solution-Focused Strategies

Both Dr. Tondaleya Jackson and Mr. Craig King underscored that teacher shortages in South Carolina undermine the quality and inclusivity of the teaching and learning processes in schools and districts, thereby negatively impacting the academic and civic trajectories of public-school students attending underserved and rural schools and districts. Mr. King concurred that innovative ways to teaching certification, new directives, and legislation to support higher salaries and professional support, and more opportunities to uphold teachers’ professional development are key to “solution-based traditional options.” Mr. King also says there is a “need for new programs to recognize teachers’ exhaustion and voices to ensure today’s youth are afforded quality and inclusive educational experiences in public-school systems such as the EPI Center, the Mister Program, and the Teacher’s Cadet Program in South Carolina’s high schools.”

Sustainment of High-Performance and Inclusivity Among Certified Teachers  

South Carolina certified teacher Walter Griffin, who has nine years of experience and loves teaching, is a high school business teacher in the Blythewood County School District. Walter Griffin expressed the EPI Center provided him micro-credentialing in Pathway 1: Rigorous Instruction Propels Equity. Mr. Griffin expressed gratitude for his enrollment. He says enrolling “allowed [me]to dive into personalized learning and development where I decided what I needed to learn to perfect my craft and to hone those skills into my lesson-planning.” In addition to Mr. Griffin’s insights, Javion Simpson, who is also a South Carolina certified teacher teaching English and Language Arts (ELA), denoted that his experience as a Pathway 4: Improvement Science Propels Achievement and Critical Thinking (IMPACT) Fellow has given him an opportunity “to research an instructional change idea to improve his students’ literacy scores and outcomes.” As a result, he says he is “looking to expand [his] teaching experiences in both ELA and mathematics for the upcoming school year.”

From Teaching Paraprofessionals to Full-time Educators

On Sunday, March 5th, the OnPoint Broadcast with Cynthia Hardy highlighted teacher shortages with solution-centered discussions about South Carolina’s public-school systems. There is a need to attract, hire, and retain more high performing and conscientious teachers willing to serve at underserved schools and districts with student empowerment and inclusion as priorities. 

Dr. Tondaleya Jackson highlighted how the EPI Center removes fiscal and social barriers for teaching paraprofessionals to successfully complete teacher education coursework, attaining a passing score on the PRAXIS examination, and obtaining alternative teacher certification. Foremost, Dr. Jackson highlighted that teaching paraprofessionals who attend the Pathway 2: Rigorous Instruction Propels Equity (RISE) receive tiered support from coaching, mentoring, and Instructional Teachers as well as additional support from Clinical Faculty Advisors regarding coursework, PRAXIS examination and support. They are also placed in an 11-month teaching residency while receiving a $35, 000 living stipend as career changers seeking to become long-term educators.

Former Data Clerk Specialist, Aliska Brown of Georgetown County School District; former school bus driver, Chelsea Maclin of Orangeburg County School District; and former Teaching Assistant, Honali Adrian Robinson of Barnwell 45 School District all attributed their achieving their aspirations as teachers to the EPI Center’s fiscal support and, most importantly, human-centric management and support of EPI Fellows throughout their educational journeys and career transitions. Aliska Brown stated that when she doubted herself, “Dr. Gwenda Greene told me to just breathe and I could do it!” Chelsea Maclin expressed she “always had an interest in being a lead teacher in a classroom and the EPI Center made it possible at all levels.”  Honali Adrian Robison shared that the EPI Center’s fiscal and social supports proved that “God is listening. He understood my life stressors and afforded me information from former coworkers from the Chester County School District about the EPI Center. I am truly grateful.”

If you are a teaching paraprofessional with a bachelor’s degree, a certified teacher, or an ELA teacher, please consider becoming an EPI fellow. Learn more about the opportunities to take your career to the next level of excellence in educational leadership at EPIPathways.org.

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