Upstate schools partner with Clemson, Tri-County Tech on accelerated pathway for education majors

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CLEMSON, S.C. (WSPA) – Clemson University College of Education, Tri-County Technical College and multiple Upstate school districts will offer a pathway from high school to a degree in education from Clemson University.

The schools involved are in Anderson One, Anderson Two, Anderson Three, Anderson Four, Anderson Five, Oconee County and Pickens County school districts.

This partnership is also called “Expressway to Tiger Town.” Clemson, Tri-County Technical College and the participating school districts will work together to identify, support and prepare students for a career as an educator.

“Students have available to them in the AOP school districts, dual enrollment classes. And these are classes they can take as high school students and get college credit for,” said Michelle Cook, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies, College of Education at Clemson University. “And so, the pathway begins by them taking classes appropriate for the teaching area they’re interested in.”

Students can take dual credit courses in 10th through 12th grades. Next, students will transition to Tri-County Technical College to complete one year.

“Our role in this program, is to ensure that each and every student receives guidance, advising, and wrap around support all the way from our partnerships with our local high schools, while the students are at Tri County enrolled, and then when they matriculate to Clemson–to make sure they have a great transition to Clemson University,” said Dr. Galen DeHay, President, Tri-County Technical College.

“Helping students successfully transition from Tri-County Technical College to Clemson, is something that we do very very well. Over the last five years, we have helped nearly 4,500 students successfully transfer to Clemson University after beginning their education at Tri-County Technical College,” DeHay said.  

Students will complete two years at Clemson University and receive their bachelor’s degree, allowing them to finish, three years following high school graduations.

“The number one benefit, in my opinion is the timeframe. So, not only are these students getting a college degree, but they’re getting it in a three year period,” said Hayden Woerner, Teacher Cadet Instructor, at Powdersville High School.

After earning a bachelor’s degree, students can spend an additional year to earn a master’s degree through Clemson’s Teacher Residency Program.

“They have that opportunity to spend that fourth year getting a master’s degree and they’re starting it at the same time period as most college graduates, but at a higher pay rate because they already have a master’s degree. So, I think time and money are the biggest benefits of this program,” Woerner said.

Some districts said it will not only save students time and money, but will help them address a bigger issue.

“We’ve got such an issue. Such a shortage with teacher candidates these days, that the more numbers that we can get into the pool, the better all of the school districts are going to be, but we would love to recruit our own students back to our district,” said Superintendent Robbie Binnicker, Anderson School District One.

Woerner is a product of Anderson County Schools, as she went to T.L. Hanna High. Woerner also went to Tri-County Tech and Clemson University. She hopes her students at Powdersville High School, will come back to their areas to teacher, as well.

“The teacher shortage is real. The need for recruitment starts earlier and earlier every year, and we’re to the point where we’re starting to recruit high school students to teach in our school district,” Woerner said. “I would love for students to just come home.”

“Growing our own is important,” Binnicker said.

Binnicker said this partnership has been several years in the making.

“We have always worked really well together, and this is one of those situations where all of us have a need and this is just a perfect opportunity for the school districts to work with Tri-County Tech, as well as Clemson University, to create a program, which quite frankly benefits every single one of us greatly,” Binnicker said.

For more information on the pathway students can take, visit the Clemson website here.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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