The first students to take advantage of Clemson University’s accelerated pathway to a degree in education officially signed up at a recent event hosted by Greenville County Schools.
Caroline Wilson and Hunter Wilson (no relation) are seniors at Mauldin High School and will be the first students to travel the “Expressway to Tigertown,” a collaborative partnership that opens a seamless pathway from high school to Greenville Technical College and then later to a degree in education from Clemson University. The two students signed their intention to pursue the program at Mauldin High School during a recent event celebrating the program.
The partnership between the three institutions identifies, supports and prepares students for a career as an educator. 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.
Burke Royster, superintendent of Greenville County Schools, was on hand at the event. He said the cost savings for students is attractive, but the program’s strength also lies in its ability to identify students who have a true passion for education
“We’re able to establish a pipeline for teachers coming out of our schools as long as they’ve taken classes they’re prescribed to take and made the grades they’re required to make,” Royster said. “Basically this program cuts four-year tuition in half for them.”
Caroline and Hunter will spend one year at Greenville Technical College and the remainder of the program at Clemson, allowing them to receive a bachelor’s degree in just three years after high school graduation. Students can choose to spend an additional year at Clemson to earn a master’s degree through its teacher residency program and benefit from the additional knowledge, training and pay that come with it.
Caroline, who plans to major in special education, said that the program was attractive to her because it allowed her to get a jump on her career and spend time with the student population with which she has enjoyed working for years.
“I’ve always loved kids and helped with special ed classes in my schools,” Caroline said. “I’ve had a wonderful mentor teacher through my teacher cadet experience, and she showed me this is what I’m meant to do.”
In addition to Royster, multiple representatives from partner institutions were present at the event, including Dr. Larry Miller, vice president of learning and workforce development at Greenville County Tech; Dr. George J. Petersen, dean emeritus and provost distinguished professor of educational innovation at Clemson University; and Rachel Turner, teacher cadet instructor and dual enrollment instructor at Mauldin High School.
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