Free masters program for teachers expands in Upstate

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One report after another shows schools across America are struggling to find teachers. The Learning Policy Institute estimates the shortage is now at 112,000 nationwide.

But a new program in the Upstate, the second of it’s kind in America, is looking to change that.

In South Carolina alone, more than 5,300 teachers left the profession last year. And only 1600 graduated with a teachers certificate according to
The Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, & Advancement (CERRA).

It’s a gap, that threatens to put the quality of students’ education at risk.

Teachers like Josie Brown in Spartanburg District 5’s Byrnes Freshman Academy believe the solution lies in how far schools go to show teachers they’re valued.

“I have taught in Greece, I have taught in Italy, I have taught in NC and VA, this is the best district by far I’ve ever worked for in terms of how they take care of their employees,” said Brown.

She is part of the first class of teachers who are getting a free masters program, paid for by her District, a cost of $20,000.

Dr. Laura Reynolds, Dean of the School of Education Human Performance and Health heads the program at USC Upstate. She says it’s not just aimed at retaining talent and attracting new teachers but it’s also tailored for each district’s needs.

“We import the school level data into those courses and the projects that we do are all driven by data that’s released and has been approved so that all the things that they do, all the readings that operate that course are driven by the needs of their school,” said Reynolds.

Since the Applied Learning and Instruction Masters progam began in January, 5 more Districts in Spartanburg have signed on.

25 teachers from each district take the courses together over two years.

“For every class I’ve taken I’ve been able to implement something in my classes, immediately within the timeframe of the course, and after,” said Brown.

The program is designed to be as convenient as possible for a teacher’s busy schedule. Some of the classes are even taken online, and for the ones that are in person, the instructor actually comes to the district.

Brown says everything she learns has a ripple effect.

“In doing this it’s not just benefiting us as a teacher but also think of the longevity of the impact it has on my students, now and in the future,” said Brown.

She says she can’t imagine leaving a school that places so much value on educating the educator.

The USC Upstate masters program is expanding locally to Cherokee County and Laurens District 56 this coming January. So far Florida is only other state in the nation offering a similar program.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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