To solve a teacher shortage, there are new incentives attracting teachers in rural districts.

Sparsely populated McCormick County South Carolina faces the challenge of a remote location in a state where numerous teachers leave their jobs each year. One solution is to have teachers receive loan forgiveness for a practicum required of all college students to become a certified teacher. Lander University senior Ashley Giordano is paid to teach classes at McCormick Elementary, and receives the loan forgiveness.  For a new teacher, hers is a lucrative opportunity.

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The state requires that students spend hours student teaching with a certified teacher.  This is typically unpaid.  But thanks to the McCormick Rural Teacher Residency program’s partnership with the Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement (CERRA), student teachers receive a stipend, loan forgiveness, and even low-rent housing. The program also offers more classroom time for student teachers before they graduate. They can have a clear idea of what to expect when teaching, thus reducing the chance that they will leave the profession.

“They spent a lot of time trying to pick who my cooperating teacher was — they tried to hand-select it based on me because I went through the interview process,” said Giordano. “So it’s not like they’re just throwing you into the school — they take into consideration who you are and partner you with someone who is going to bring out those strengths.”

Currently the students are not obligated to stay in the district once their student teaching is done.  In the future, they will sign a contract to stay between one to three years, which encourages teacher retention.

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