FMU’s Center of Excellence to focus on K-12 teacher retention
Francis Marion University will assist school districts in their teacher retention efforts thanks to a grant recently awarded by the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education.
FMU will receive just over $347,000 during the next three years to fund the new Center of Excellence for Teacher Retention and Induction in the Pee Dee (COE-TRIP). The center will be housed in FMU’s School of Education and focus on early-career teachers’ effectiveness, resilience, and well-being.
FMU was one of just three universities in South Carolina to receive the latest Center of Excellence grants in a state-wide competitive process administered by the CHE. Two other centers focusing on different areas of educational preparation already exist at the university. They have been recognized regionally and nationally for the quality of their work.
The new initiative will provide professional development support for first and second year teachers in surrounding school districts: Florence School District 3 and Marion County School District. The COE-TRIP will expand efforts to work with more area school districts in the future.
“We hope to help partner districts retain and support effective, resilient teachers, which, in turn, will support successful and engaged children,” said Kimberly McCuiston, associate professor of education at FMU.
McCuiston – along with Michelle R. Murphy and Jared H. Stewart-Ginsburg – authored the grant, which will focus on first-year elementary and special education teachers.
Teacher retention in K-12 education has long been a critical issue nationally and in South Carolina. A report released March 1 from the non-profit South Carolina Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement showed nearly 1,000 teachers across the state had left their jobs since the 2021-22 school year began.
In the first year, the grant will fund the center start-up, including support for current student teachers to engage with Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) throughout the region.
Murphy said new teachers will be supported by colleagues who can help them adapt as they begin to deal with the challenges and demands of the teaching profession.
“It is hugely important that we find more innovative and sustaining ways to assist teachers in the early years of their career. They must be at their professional and personal best, so that they can give their best to students,” said Murphy. “We can’t fill from an empty cup.”