As I enter my fifth year as dean, now more than ever it is imperative that we address key societal and health issues, as well as the ongoing teacher shortage. With the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and the ongoing anti-Black, racist and hate crimes brought to our nation’s attention, we who prepare the next generation of teachers, leaders, counselors and policy makers must lead the effort to educate every student about anti-racism, countering anti-Blackness and challenging hate and prejudice through relevant teaching and curriculum.
I cannot express to you how proud I am of the faculty and staff members in our college and their ability to provide a high-quality educational experience in the midst of the pandemic, as well as their leadership — in our college, on the UofSC campus and across the nation — in designing and researching educational practices that highlight and dismantle anti-Blackness and other discriminatory practices.
We also must continue to focus on the teacher shortage crisis in South Carolina. We are taking specific actions in our college to address this issue with a comprehensive approach to recruitment, retention and induction. We’ve developed the successful Apple Core Initiative scholarship program to recruit, coach and support students of color who want to be teachers, and our Carolina Teacher Induction Program assists teachers in their first three years of teaching through one-on-one coaching. Our new Carolina Collaborative for Alternative Preparation is a program that offers competency-based teacher preparation for those individuals who have a degree and a desire to enter the teaching profession. We are very excited about the potential for this program, which is supported through a legislative proviso. More than 125 individuals have expressed interest in the program including 80 percent teachers of color in our first cohort.
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the College of Education is working closely with schools and agencies to provide our students the best possible experience as they progress toward their professional ambitions. Our faculty and staff have done an amazing job of being flexible and responsive to meet the needs of our students. We will continue to be diligent in making sure our students, staff and faculty members remain safe while providing the high-quality experiences and education that our university and college demand.
As Gamecocks, we walk together in order to achieve our goals, and as you read through this alumni communication, you will see our faculty, staff and students are walking together to address the key and critical issues I mentioned above. In addition, we continue to celebrate and take great pride in the vital work of our alumni that impacts our communities and supports our work throughout the state. We could not do what we do without your support, your guidance and your contributions.
“If we want to go fast, we run alone; If we want to go far, we walk together.” As a Gamecock family, we all will walk together to transform lives. That is who we are and that is what we do!