There is a shortage of certified educators in South Carolina that needs to be addressed, and Laurens County School District 55 (LCSD 55) is taking steps to address the need. According to The Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, & Advancement (CERRA) 2022-23 South Carolina Annual Educator Supply and Demand Report, there is a 39% increase in vacancies from the 2021-22 year. The report states, “The 2022-23 school year began with 1,474 vacant positions compared to 1,063 the previous year.” Teacher departures have steadily increased since 2020-21, with the most recent jump at 20%. The full report is available at www.cerra.org.
Laurens County School District 55 is once again showing its commitment to growing the workforce pipeline. To help address the vacancies in education, LCSD 55 has partnered with Piedmont Technical College (PTC) in Greenwood and Presbyterian College (PC) in Clinton to offer the Dual Enrollment 2 + 2 Education Pathway Program. Through this program, Laurens District 55 High School (LDHS) students can earn a degree in education for free. Students enrolled in the two-year dual enrollment education program offered by PTC participate in the classes at LDHS to obtain college credits. Students may then continue their education program at PC for another two years. This makes it possible for a student to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Education from PC at no cost. This LCSD 55, PTC, and PC partnership will give the community a pool of new educators that will help fill the teacher shortage.
Laurens District 55 High School Principal Lewis Compton said, “This is a great opportunity for our students to gain a competitive edge in today’s job market.”
Piedmont Technical College is a post-secondary institution duly accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The college has multiple campuses serving seven counties in South Carolina. PTC has a strong partnership with LCSD 55.
“As South Carolina and the entire country navigate the crisis in teacher staffing, the timing of this initiative is particularly fitting,” said Dr. Hope E. Rivers, president of PTC. “We are confident that once high school students learn about this opportunity, they will give it earnest consideration. With hard work and collaboration, we can find solutions to the teacher shortage together.”
Presbyterian College provides students of all faiths, identities, and backgrounds with a transformative education that equips them for impactful careers and empowers them to serve as powerful forces for positive community and world change. PC stands by its philosophy of offering rigorous education with a built-in support network. It is also accredited by SACSCOC. PC’s education coursework is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.
“The strength of the American higher education system lies in its diversity,” said Dr. Matt vandenBerg, Presbyterian College President. “PC and Piedmont Tech tend to serve complementary roles within the higher education landscape, and when we partner together, we can address societal challenges in far more direct, powerful, and comprehensive ways. We are excited that this new partnership will help address the national and statewide teacher shortages by dramatically reducing some of the barriers to entry for students, including time and cost.”
“I am very excited about this new dual enrollment partnership with Presbyterian College and Piedmont Technical College that will help address the national teacher shortages,” said Dr. Ameca C. Thomas, Laurens County School District 55 Superintendent. “This is an awesome opportunity for our students and the community. It provides a viable option for students to earn an associate’s degree while in high school and also provides a gateway for them to receive a bachelor’s degree. This partnership is an excellent way for us to help identify and grow our own Laurens 55 students who are interested in becoming teachers. Hopefully, many of them will come back and teach in the district.”
In the photo:
Standing Left to Right: PTC Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Keli Fewox, PTC Vice President for Student Affairs Josh Black, LCSD 55 Executive Director of Elementary Education Jennifer Abercrombie, LCSD 55 Assistant Superintendent for Pupil Services Dr. Jody Penland, and PC Assistant Registrar Ellen Armstrong Seated Left to Right: PTC President Dr. Hope E. Rivers, LCSD 55 Superintendent Dr. Ameca C. Thomas, and PC Provost Dr. Kerry Pannell