PC and Piedmont Technical College address state teacher shortage with new dual enrollment partnership

PC and Piedmont Technical College address state teacher shortage with new dual enrollment partnership

PC president Dr. Matthew vandenBerg and Piedmont Tech president Dr. Hope Rivers (seated, left to right) sign agreement at Clinton High School.

Presbyterian College and Piedmont Technical College are partnering to address a statewide teacher shortage by helping eligible dual enrollment students transfer seamlessly to PC to earn a bachelor’s degree in education.

PC president Dr. Matthew vandenBerg and Piedmont Tech president Dr. Hope Rivers signed a memorandum of understanding on May 26 at Clinton High School. The agreement establishes a pathway to a bachelor’s degree in education for students earning college credits at Piedmont Tech while still in high school and is the first and largest program of its kind in South Carolina.

“At PC, for those who qualify, we guarantee that those classes they are taking fulfill certain requirements in our curriculum and for the education major itself so they can finish at PC two years after they arrive,” said PC provost Dr. Kerry Pannell. “I believe this will be really beneficial for all of the schools involved and especially the students.”

President vandenBerg said the partnership is a big win for students and the entire education community.

“The strength of the American higher education system lies in its diversity,” he said. “PC and Piedmont Tech tend to serve complementary roles within the higher education landscape, and when we partner together, we can address societal challenges in far more direct, powerful, and comprehensive ways.  We are excited that this new partnership will help address the national and statewide teacher shortages by dramatically reducing some of the barriers to entry for students, including time and cost.”

President Rivers said the agreement addresses not only the growing teacher shortage but also gives students viable options to earn a bachelor’s degree.

“Piedmont Tech’s ongoing relationship with Presbyterian College is based on a mutual commitment to student success, wherever they attend college,” she said. “It is imperative that our dual enrollment students see themselves as true college students and feel supported in pursuing even greater academic heights.”

Piedmont Tech’s director of dual enrollment Tameika Wideman said the memorandum of understanding with PC gives dual enrollment students a powerful means to achieve their career goals.

“This is a first-of-its-kind measure taken exclusively to benefit our dual enrollment aspiring educators,” she said. “We have many students who plan to transfer to four-year institutions. This gives them another really strong option.”

According to the agreement, participating students are eligible for admission to PC after successfully completing the first year program. Qualifying students must complete two years of dual credit with Piedmont Tech to earn their associate’s degree before enrolling at PC. Other requirements include maintaining a college-credit grade point average of 2.75 or higher and grades of C-minus or better.

Once admitted, students begin two years of coursework in PC’s education department, which is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.

PC associate professor of education Dr. Tammy Graham knows firsthand the benefits of programs like the one developed by PC and Piedmont Tech.

“I did something similar as a student,” she said. “I started at a community college before going on to earn my bachelor’s and was teaching in the classroom at age 20. So, I’m a big believer in this program.”

Clinton High principal Dr. Martha Brothers said the program will benefit more than just PC and Piedmont Tech.

“This partnership will benefit the entire community,” she said. “Identifying young people who want to become educators and helping them begin that goal while in high school is a win-win for us all. Hopefully, we will be able to keep some of these graduates in the area and in our school system. It is an excellent way for us to ‘grow our own’ and have them give back to CHS and the entire area.”