Opinion: Expressway to Tiger Town could help combat state teacher shortage

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Stack of books, stationery and education supplies on wooden desk

By Dr. Keith Miller

Three years after high school, one education major has a year of college left to go. Another completed her bachelor’s degree and is now leading the classroom instead of occupying a seat in it. The difference is a new initiative launched by Greenville County Schools, Greenville Technical College, and Clemson University that allows education majors to begin their college degree while they are still in high school, save money, and finish fast.

Expressway to Tiger Town is an accelerated, seamless path from high school to a Clemson education degree. The student starts in grades ten through twelve, earning a year’s worth of credits toward a bachelor’s degree through dual enrollment classes at Greenville Technical College that provide a head start on college while also counting toward high school requirements. A second year of college is completed on a Greenville Tech campus. Both of these steps are affordable thanks to Greenville Tech’s very reasonable tuition.

Keith Miller is president of Greenville Technical College. Photo provided.

With half of that bachelor’s degree completed, the student meets Clemson University admissions requirements, moves on to Tiger Town, and earns an education degree just three years out of high school. A fourth, optional year can be devoted to earning a master’s degree, which means higher starting pay. With a degree or two in hand, the new graduate has a guarantee at the end of the path – an interview with Greenville County Schools that may result in a job offer.

With the savings realized on college tuition, this Expressway to Tiger Town pathway can reduce or even eliminate the student debt that weighs on so many college graduates.

We know that there’s a teacher shortage in our state and in our country. Some educators leave the profession after just a few years, and student debt can be a contributing factor to that choice as it eats into a new teacher’s starting paycheck. But the shortage actually begins much earlier than that. Many high school students don’t even consider a teaching career, causing the number of education majors to decline. The number of teachers, already inadequate, becomes even more so as teachers leave the field.

At Greenville Technical College, we are pleased to join with Greenville County Schools and Clemson University in an initiative that gives future teachers an affordable and accelerated path to success. We hope to see more young people enter the career and more teachers stay in the profession as a result.

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