Buffalo Elementary, Foster Park Elementary, Jonesville Elementary/Middle and Monarch Elementary schools are participating in a program named NetSCOPE for Network of Sustained, Collaborative, Ongoing Preparation for Educators. The program is designed to improve student academic achievement by strengthening teacher candidates’ training in the schools.
Superintendent Dr. Kristi Woodall said school officials are excited about the opportunity to work with Winthrop.
“This partnership will benefit our teachers as they serve as mentors for teacher candidates,” she said. “In addition, the quality instructional practices learned by staff members in professional development training will benefit our students.”
NetSCOPE will focus on five goals: improving student academic achievement in targeted high-need schools; improving professional learning for school-university faculty and teacher candidates; strengthening the pre-baccalaureate education of teacher candidates; increasing support for new teachers in the high-need districts; and implementing ongoing, accessible school leadership programs. Union is classified as a high-need location based on the district’s poverty level, which makes Union County Schools eligible to receive grant funding for professional development.
Buffalo Elementary School will participate as a Professional Development School, which means two-thirds of the staff has agreed to serve as mentors to student interns and engage in continuous professional development workshops.
“A professor from Winthrop will work with each of these schools to facilitate the activities and there will be an identified school liaison (teacher or administrator) working the project as well,” said director of secondary education Cindy Langley.
The commitment is expected to extend throughout the entire five-year grant period.
Foster Park Elementary School, Jonesville Elementary/Middle School and Monarch Elementary School will all participate as Partner Schools.
“While Winthrop University will not provide an on-site professor at these schools, Winthrop will provide a coordinator to work with the school liaison and teachers to facilitate the professional development activities,” Langley said. “The teachers and administrators at Partner Schools may elect to apply the following year to become Professional Development Sites.”
Even though only four Union County schools are participating in the program as PDS and PS sites, every teacher in the district will have the opportunity to participate in training activities. Ways of participation include taking graduate courses, working with teacher candidates, participating in study groups or videoing and analyzing instructional practices.
Winthrop was the only institution in South Carolina and one of only 28 institutions nationally to be chosen to participate in a five-year Teacher Quality Partnership grant program through the U.S. Department of Education. The program will be totally funded by the $7.5 million grant, thus no tax dollars will be spent.
The Union school district is already reaping rewards.
“Five of our teachers will participate in graduate courses this summer to receive endorsements to teach Advanced Placement English Literature and Advanced Placement Government and this fall principals will participate in a workshop to sharpen their skills in working with teacher candidates and first-year teachers,” Langley said.
Education faculty members will meet with teachers at the selected schools during a retreat which will be held June 27-29.
Participants will build a plan for what the partnership work will look like for the next three years.
Union is one of several districts participating in the program.