University of South Carolina Columbia
The South Carolina Teaching Fellows Program at USC-Columbia is a scholarship program for qualified South Carolina high school students who wish to pursue a degree in education and a career in South Carolina’s public schools following graduation. Administered by the Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention and Advancement, the program provides a $24,000 scholarship/loan for up to 175 outstanding high school seniors. USC-Columbia is one of only eleven (11) institutions in the state identified as a Teaching Fellows Institution.
USC–Columbia is home to the largest community of Teaching Fellows in the state. Currently, 123 Teaching Fellows in four cohorts—freshmen through seniors—are pursuing degrees and initial certification through the Professional Education Unit at USC. First-year Fellows at USC also participate in one of two special sections of University 101, a nationally-recognized course focusing on the transition to college life. Through the USC Teaching Fellows Association, formally recognized as a campus student organization, all Fellows plan and participate in enrichment programs, workshops, and service opportunities. Their work is supported by a faculty advisor, the Teaching Fellows Campus Director, who oversees the Fellows Program at USC-Columbia and serves as a mentor to all USC Fellows.
USC-Columbia, with its proximity to urban, suburban, and rural school districts, provides rich opportunities for teacher candidates to complete field experiences in diverse settings. Teaching Fellows have additional opportunities to focus on diversity studies through programming of their design through the Fellows Association, during multicultural events and activities on the USC campus, and in their academic experiences. USC Teaching Fellows have participated in programs focusing on diverse student populations including special needs students, children of poverty, and students in schools featured in the funding lawsuit and Corridor of Shame.
The 2007 cohort of Teaching Fellows recently began a tradition of reaching out to schools around the state through their sophomore experience. This professional development experience allowed students to visit each school in Calhoun County, donating items to enhance instruction, visiting classrooms and talking with students in order to gain a better understanding of education in this part of the state. Each year, sophomore Teaching Fellows choose a different school or district in the state in order to continue this outreach program.
In addition to the many opportunities for campus leadership afforded students at USC-Columbia, Teaching Fellows may also serve in a variety of leadership roles within the Teaching Fellows Association. Officers and cohort representatives are elected each year as are co-chairs of the standing committees of the TFA. This executive board meets regularly to oversee and plan activities for all 123 USC Fellows.
Through the Professional Development School Network and other area PK-12 schools partnered with the Professional Education Unit at USC, USC Teaching Fellows—as well as all other teacher candidates—participate in clinical experiences in schools the following districts: Lexington One, Lexington Two, Richland One, Richland Two, District Five of Richland and Lexington Counties, Newberry County Schools, and the Department of Juvenile Justice. Students in clinical placements work with USC faculty, University supervisors, school liaisons, coaching teachers, and other veteran educators.
Each semester USC Teaching Fellows must complete at least five hours of service working with schools and teachers in the Columbia area—or in their home communities. Fellows have volunteered with a variety of agencies and organizations including Harvest Hope Food Bank, EdVenture Children’s Museum, Epworth Children’s Home, Special Olympics, Olympia Learning Center, Rolling Readers, and many more.
The USC-Columbia community provides a strong support system for Teaching Fellows. In addition to having faculty advisors in their academic majors, Fellows are also supported by the Campus Director, a former classroom teacher and a member of the College of Education faculty, who is dedicated to providing students with personal, academic, and professional support during their University experience and beyond. In this role, the Campus Director helps connect Fellows to other campus personnel— faculty and staff in the College of Education, Office of Financial Aid, the Office of Fellowships and Scholar Programs, University Housing, the Student Health and Counseling Centers, and in various departments and schools. College of Education faculty and staff work closely with the Campus Director to support and nurture Teaching Fellows during their college experience and in their teacher preparation programs.
For more information about the USC Teaching Fellows Program, contact Campus Director Kimberly Smoak at firstname.lastname@example.org or 803.777.6401. For more information on the College of Education at USC-Columbia, go to www.ed.sc.edu.