“Through the education department at PC I have been able to gain a deeper appreciation and knowledge of my profession. I found my liberal arts education to be valuable and the classes as part of the department to be very helpful. Now that I am in a full-time teaching position, I have been able to incorporate many of the different techniques and strategies I have learned. I have spoken with friends also majoring in education at other colleges and realize that they are not required to do many of the same projects I have done, but I do know these projects have better prepared me for what I will face as I become a teacher. The professors are all extremely helpful and knowledgeable about their subject matter. I know I can call any one of them and they would be willing to help me with anything.”
—Nicole Mirti, class of 2008
The face of Becky Cremer ’09 will soon become familiar to those traveling in or near Memphis, Tennessee. The third grade teacher at Idlewild Elementary in Memphis is one of a select group of Memphis City Schools teachers who will appear on billboards and buses around the city to advertise the local public school system.
An education major and elementary education minor while at PC, Cremer was chosen to participate in the campaign based on her teaching performance: she ranked in the top 5 percent of all 6,000 Memphis City Schools teachers in a recent teacher evaluation.
The advertisements will include the tagline “I teach. I am…,” followed by a teaching statement.
“I have chosen for my catchphrase to be ‘I teach. I am elevating students, not just test scores,’” Cremer said. “I chose this to reflect my belief that whole-student education and preparing each child for success is so much more valuable than any standardized test score.”
While she explored other potential career options at PC, Cremer said that teaching ultimately “chose” her. During her sophomore year Cremer served as a Student Volunteer Services coordinator for an after-school program at a local elementary school, where she designed games and learning activities for third graders.
“I found that in all the hustle and bustle of classes, work study, and extracurriculars, working with those kids is what I looked forward to the most during my week,” Cremer said.
The Memphis native credits the education department for providing her with the “skills, resources, and confidence” to teach.
“No one is ever completely prepared to become a teacher,” Cremer said. “But when I began teaching, I knew what to expect, and I knew what to do.
“The PC education department gave me the toolbox I needed to be successful right from the start and helped mold me into who I am,” Cremer said. “And who I am is someone who has the knowledge, the confidence, and the enthusiasm to reach out and make a difference.”
—Becky Cremer, class of 2009
The Education Department at PC has given me so many experiences and has exposed me to so many strategies that I use every day in the classroom. These techniques range from various technology strategies I have learned, to real life experiences in practicums and student teaching. Speaking of student teaching and practicums, there is no better way to learn about classroom management and to get a real feel of what it is like to be a teacher. The professors in the Education Department are amazing. I love how they made class so interesting; especially since they have experience in the classroom and can share so many different real life experiences that are practical to not only what we are learning but are useful in the classroom. It is also great that I can still get in touch with any one of them to ask about a question I have on a project I am assigning or wanting advice on how to handle a difficult student.
—Kathryn Ethridge, class of 2012
PC Alumni Start Careers as Educators and Male Role Models to Youth
Written by Brenda Stewart, Stewart Marketing & Consulting
Clinton, S.C. (August 14, 2012)
Two PC graduates will start this school year in the classroom as teachers.
Ross Jackson (’12) accepted a position at Monarch Elementary School as a third grade teacher. TJ DeVine (’12) accepted a position teaching at an elementary school in Sumter and running back coach for the Lakewood High School football team.
Jackson did not originally have thoughts of being an education major or a teacher. As he considered the opportunities available to an education major he sought the advice and wisdom of Dr. Debra Lee, associate professor of education/executive director of teacher education. “Dr. Lee was a wonderful mentor to me,” said Jackson. “All of the professors were very supportive and nurturing as I advanced through the curriculum and student teaching practicums.”
The education program at PC provides a unique opportunity for students to student teach in community schools. Professors are committed to observing the students in the classroom to provide constructive feedback to help further develop teaching methods and skills. “Classroom observations are an excellent means for us to connect the coursework and practical experience as we develop these students into teachers,” said Dr. Lee. “We are committed to the program and so pleased to have the support of local schools for this program.”
DeVine, an early childhood education major and student athlete attributes the supportive network of coaches and professors for his success on campus. “Faculty members and coaches were always available to me for anything,” said DeVine. “The commitment of the professors to observe practice teaching in the classroom on a weekly basis served to be very helpful in developing my teaching style and improving on core skills. This is not something I would have received at a larger school.”
DeVine was able to secure the coaching position at Lakewood High School with the assistance of Blue Hose football head coach, Harold Nichols, and then secured the teaching position at an elementary school in Sumter.
Jackson and DeVine have the opportunity to do more than teach. According to Men Teach, a non-profit organization that encourages men to enter teaching, they are among the 18.3 percent of middle and elementary school teachers who are men.
“I’m very proud to be a male teacher working with the youth in Sumter County,” said DeVine. “I hope to be a role model for boys that don’t have a father or other male role model in the home.”
“PC gave me the opportunity to experience education in the classroom and fuel my passion for working with children,” said Jackson. “There is no greater joy than to see the smile on a child’s face when they do a good job or receive verbal praise. I want to be a teacher that energizes students and is someone they feel they can talk to.”
PC Alumna Jennifer Ainsworth Named South Carolina Teacher of the Year
The 1994 PC graduate made history as the first educator to bring that title home for Horry County Schools. She is the wife of PC alumnus William Ainsworth ’93, and the daughter of PC alumnus Larry Geddie ’68 of McColl. Both attended the gala, as well as the Ainsworths’ two sons.
Jennifer Ainsworth is a special education teacher who teaches Socastee High’s mild to moderate special needs class, with students from ages 14 to 21 who are learning work skills, life skills and academics in order to be productive citizens. She is known for her passion and dedication to her students, and for going above and beyond to provide them with opportunities for recreation and to participate in the community.
She said she is inspired by her late mother, Judy, who was a substitute teacher, her 96-year-old grandmother and her late class assistant, Peggy Blaine, who died the night
before Ainsworth won HCS Teacher of the Year last year.
“When I volunteered for Special Olympics and working with adults with special needs, at that point I changed my major and I knew that special education was what I would want to do,” Ainsworth told WBTW News last week.
“With the students in our class from day one, they give you unconditional love and anybody who walks into our room will realize that they’re going to take so much more away from our classroom,” Ainsworth added.
Her students said they were confident she would be the winner because of the love she shows them everyday and how special she is to the class.
“This is an honor for all the teachers and staff that work with special kids everyday and it kind of showcases what we do and I’m extremely proud that it’s brought special education to the forefront,” Ainsworth said last week.
As South Carolina’s Teacher of the Year, Ainsworth receives a $25,000 cash award and a new BMW to use for one year. During the 2014-15 school year, she will participate in a one-year residency program at the Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention and Advancement and will serve as a statewide ambassador for the profession.
All the finalists went through personal interviews with a seven-member state selection committee. She and other finalists were selected from 81 school districts, the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind, the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Palmetto Unified School District, and the South Carolina Public Charter School District.