USC Aiken Hosts Conference for Future Teachers

February 10, 2017

The University of South Carolina Aiken hosted an annual conference Feb. 3, for area school districts’ teacher cadets -- high school juniors and seniors who are interested in pursuing a career in education.

"This program is a fantastic opportunity for junior and senior high school students to learn what it means to be an educator. It is a fantastic recruitment tool for the education profession,” said Dr. Tim Lintner, assistant vice chancellor for academic affairs. 

"Interacting with the students gets them excited and makes them want to be educators. This is a whole host of high school students who are ready to make a difference."

Approximately 150 cadets spent the day on USC Aiken’s campus. The schedule of events included professional development activities – such as the keynote speech from Jason Holt, the principal of Jackson Middle School.

"The shortage of teachers in our state is a crisis. We utilize this program as a way to inform folks about the field of education, which will hopefully fill in the gaps of the shortage in the future," said Karen Pack with the Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement.

As part of the conference fun, attendees took part in a campus-wide scavenger hunt.  The cadets also participated in a leadership activity where they were presented with complex ethical dilemmas they may face as educators.  The case studies challenged the cadets to make decisions on how they might act and react to these potential situations. 

"This program is important because it makes students realize that teachers are important, and students themselves can become the teachers who impact the lives of other students,” said Jacob Hodges, a senior at Strom Thurmond High School. 

Lastly, the USC Aiken Teaching Fellows – college students who work with local schools as part of their academic curriculum – met with the cadets to share with the high school students what to expect in college.

One USC Aiken Teaching Fellow believes this conference helps prepare the cadets.

"Teachers are our future. This program puts tools into these students’ toolboxes. It puts them a step ahead of education majors at other universities,” said Alex Richardson, a USC Aiken secondary education major. 

Additional topics during the open forum discussion between the fellows and cadets included the importance of educators and the differences they make.  The Pacers also shared motivational personal stories.

"Today inspired me to go back and thank the teachers who have impacted my life," said Katelyn Holliday, a senior at North Augusta High School. 

USC Aiken, a comprehensive university in the University of South Carolina system, offers undergraduate and master’s degrees to more than 3,500 students in 50 programs of study. USC Aiken is ranked the #1 public regional college in the South by U.S. News & World Report’s guide "America’s Best Colleges." The 2017 distinction marks USC Aiken’s 19th consecutive ranking among the top three in this category and its 12th time in first place.