A collaborative partnership involving Clemson University, Greenville Technical College and Greenville County Schools has earned national recognition from the League for Innovation in the Community College. “Expressway to Tiger Town” identifies, supports and prepares students for a career as an educator, and the accelerated higher education pathway program earned the league’s 2019 Innovation of the Year Award.
The award honors faculty, staff and administrators at member colleges who have created and implemented innovative programs, practices, partnerships, policies and activities that improve the institution’s ability to serve students and the community. According to George J. Petersen, founding dean of Clemson’s College of Education, the recognition is early validation that Clemson and its partners are on the right track with the unique program.
“This college has prided itself on its ability to innovate in the area of education and collaborate with like-minded institutions who want to have a positive impact on our state and nation through quality teacher education,” Petersen says. “Students who find their way to Clemson through ‘Expressway to Tiger Town’ should see this recognition as evidence that they’re getting a best-in-class experience from all cooperating institutions.”
The purpose of the teacher pipeline partnership is to provide curriculum pathways for high school students from Greenville County Schools to begin taking dual credit courses as early as the 10th grade. Students will then go on to earn an associate’s degree from Greenville Technical College and finally a teacher preparation bachelor’s degree from Clemson University.
Students will spend one year at Greenville Tech and two years at Clemson, allowing them to receive a bachelor’s degree in just three years. Students can choose to spend an additional year at Clemson to earn a master’s degree and the additional knowledge, training and pay that come with it.
Leadership from all three institutions see the program having a positive effect on teacher shortage issues in the state, particularly in high-needs areas such as math, science and foreign languages. The fact that is provides an affordable, accelerated path to success for qualifying students only makes the program more attractive.
Award winners are judged on several criteria including quality, efficiency, cost effectiveness, replication, creativity and timeliness. Representatives from the partnership’s partner institutions will share their innovations at the league’s Innovations Conference.
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