Reflections from the Field: Teach864

#Teach864 – A Campaign to Elevate and Celebrate the Teaching Profession

South Carolina, and more specifically Greenville County Schools, has committed to the Profile of the South Carolina Graduate so every high school graduate will be prepared for success in college, career, and citizenship. This goal mirrors the mission of Public Education Partners: to collaborate with community partners to support and strengthen student achievement in Greenville County Schools so every child will graduate ready for college, careers, and civic responsibility.

To fulfill this mission, we must first ensure that every child has an effective teacher in every classroom, every day. However, as has been widely reported, findings show an alarming and growing teacher shortage. Over the past number of years, fewer teachers are entering the profession, more are leaving the profession (particularly during their first five years of teaching), and the number of vacant positions across our state is growing each year, especially in areas like math, foreign language, and special education. Even with alternative certification programs, such as the PEP-supported, in-demand Greenville Alternative Teacher Education Program (GATE), the reality of a teacher shortage faces all school districts in South Carolina.

In 2017, State Superintendent Molly Spearman convened an Educator Retention and Recruitment Committee to review current research, best practices, and received input from South Carolina teachers. PEP provided input to this Committee about our efforts to stem the shortage and elevate the profession. On December 31, 2017, the Committee submitted a report to the Legislature, which included 29 practical recommendations and urged that “these recommendations should be implemented swiftly and with fidelity.”

One of the twenty-nine recommendations revolves around marketing and communications to “make the teaching profession more appealing,” and thus improve our teacher recruitment and retention outcomes. We applaud efforts across the state that have now emerged as a result of this recommendation, such as S.C. Future Minds’ Teacher Hero Program.

Collaboration

PEP, along with Greenville County Schools, is uniquely positioned to bring this recommendation to fruition in Greenville and are excited to launch Teach864, a communications campaign to elevate and celebrate the teaching profession in Greenville. We will launch this campaign on April 17th, 2018, at Fluor Field during Teach864 Night. This night is an effort by PEP, The Greenville Drive, and Greenville County Schools to bring our teachers and community together to honor our teachers, highlight avenues into and benefits of the profession, and have some fun as we cheer on the Greenville Drive!

Teachers will receive a free ticket to the game, a commemorative t-shirt, and will be celebrated in many different ways throughout the ball game. We hope you join us! Following Teach864 Night, PEP will continue the Teach864 campaign via billboards, social media, print media, and engage partner organizations to celebrate and appreciate our teachers. Be on the lookout for Teach864 throughout the community this spring and summer.

In a previous PEP newsletter, I wrote about the conditions we seek to develop in partnership with our schools and community to position Greenville as Teacher Town, U.S.A. PEP is currently building a portfolio of strategies to realize this vision, ranging from GATE to our Building STEAM and Mullins grants, positioning the community to advocate for policy that supports teachers, and exploring the development of teacher housing in Greenville. Teach864 is another Teacher Town strategy to help end the teacher shortage by elevating a profession that is critical to our students’ achievement, and ultimately to Greenville’s future.

~ Dr. Ansel Sanders, PEP President and CEO


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