Beaufort County School District receives 56 new Math & Science MEd graduates from the college's Educational Outreach program
What do you say when a powerful alliance from SC Beaufort County School District, US Department of Education Math-Science Partnership (MSP), SC Department of Education, and Common Core State Standards ask you for your help? You say yes of course! That is exactly what the College of Education did. By working together with the college, members from these entities produced a graduating cohort of 56 new MEd K-12 teachers in Beaufort who were honored by the district on May 10th. Some 20 of those teachers came to Columbia on May 11th and participated in the official College of Education commencement ceremony.
This innovative collaboration was initially envisioned by Kate Olin who is Beaufort County School District's professional development specialist and grant coordinator. Olin saw the need to address Common Core standards and identified Beaufort County's strategy to cultivate teacher leaders in the areas of mathematics and science. She applied for a US Dept. of Education MSP program grant that is administered by the SC Dept. of Education. The key component of being awarded the grant was the incorporation of the college's Master of Education (MEd) in Teaching program. Director of the college's Department of Educational Outreach (OEO) Dr. Edwin Dickey worked with Olin to customize a MEd in Teaching for this math and science cohort.
It took 2½ years to complete 36 semester hours of 18 different courses taught by 22 faculty from the college and USC's Departments of Math and Biological Sciences. This distance, site-based cohort option from the OEO includes 9 hours of core courses, 6 hours of action research courses and 21 hours of concentrated inquiry within a specific subject emphasis. The action research capstone EDTE J712 and J713 courses were led by ITE Language and Literacy Associate Professor Dr. Pamela Jewett. Her adjunct faculty included graduates from the college's language and literacy doctoral program – Dr. Sally Somerall and Dr. Michelle Vanderburg.
The Beaufort cohort presented their final action research projects before district school administrators, Dickey and Olin on April 13th at Bluffton High School. "Each candidate illustrated the true intent of the MEd in Teaching degree" says Dickey "by giving us a glimpse into the systematic inquiry each had planned and implemented to assess the quality of their teaching and their students' learning capacities. I am certain, based on the evidence that I saw and the work that was accomplished in all the courses of this program, that the educational foundation that they have attained will build great things for more than 6,000 children in Beaufort County schools. "
As part of the ceremony commemorating the degree completion, many of the graduates gave touching testimonies about what they had learned from the faculty members who taught them– especially from the Fulbright Scholar and education professor Dr. Jennifer L. Wilson who was tragically slain in 2011. As a collective tribute to Dr. Wilson, the cohort graduates made a contribution to The Jennifer L. Wilson Memorial Scholarship Fund that will be awarded to an undergraduate student admitted to the professional program in middle-level education.