The program provides coaching and mentoring for USC education graduates during the first three years of their teaching careers. All 15 graduates who participated in the first year of the program in 2017-18 returned to the classroom this fall, and an additional 54 teachers are joining TIP this year, according to the University of South Carolina.
“While recruiting new teachers is important, reducing the alarming rate at which novice teachers leave the classroom must be a central focus in addressing the teacher shortage,” Jon Pedersen, dean of USC’s College of Education, said in a news release. “If we could reduce the number of teachers leaving their current teaching positions by just 25 percent, we could save districts nearly $6 million annually.”
Colonial Life, a Columbia-based insurance company, contributed $25,000 toward the first year of the program, which provides professional development and instructional coaching.
“Supporting teachers who are building the next generation of workers and citizens is a primary focus of Colonial Life’s community outreach,” said Marie McGehee, Colonial Life community relations manager. “This program equips teachers and students with tools that help drive workforce development and economic success across the state.”
Data from the S.C. Center for Education Recruitment, Retention and Advancement shows that more than 6,500 teachers left their positions at the end of the 2016-17 school year. While more than 25% of those took other teaching positions, around 4,900 — 38% of whom had five or fewer years of classroom experience — no longer teach in S.C. public schools.
USC formed a partnership with Midlands Technical College in June that the schools hope will improve those numbers. The agreement outlines specific requirements for Midlands Tech students with associate degrees transferring into bachelor’s degree programs in early childhood, elementary or middle-level education in USC’s College of Education. Midlands Tech graduates will enter the university with junior academic standing, and USC advisors will visit Midlands Tech each semester to discuss the program.
Colonial Life sponsors several programs to support educators, including the Education Leaders Experience and the Strong Schools Grants program.s