PEP and Duke Energy Announce Major Grant to Expand Greenville County Schools’ GATE Program
Greenville, S.C. – May 9, 2017 – Public Education Partners (PEP) is pleased to announce the receipt of a $109,000 grant from the Duke Energy Foundation to support Greenville County Schools’ expansion of the Greenville Alternative Teacher Education (GATE) program.
Developed through a collaboration between PEP and Greenville County Schools (GCS), GATE was created last fall to help address the shortage of teachers in Greenville County, which in 2015 had to fill over 520 vacancies.
“We know there is a critical shortage of math and science teachers here in South Carolina,” said Kodwo Ghartey-Tagoe, Duke Energy’s state president for South Carolina. “Programs like GATE can make a difference in putting qualified, motivated teachers in these classrooms. Our children are the future leaders of our communities, and we must contribute to their success. Supporting programs like this helps us do just that.”
In its first year, 10 new math and science teachers were hired through GATE to teach at nine Greenville County middle and high schools. PEP supported GATE in three ways:
1) offsetting costs otherwise incurred by GATE teachers by raising funds from local businesses and foundations, such as GE Energy, O’Neal Engineering, Gilreath Foundation, and Daniel-Mickel Foundation;
2) publicizing GATE to recruit a high-quality applicant pool; and
3) providing GCS ongoing feedback to professional development and curricular programming.
Now, through Duke Energy’s donation, 15 new teachers will receive a Duke Energy GATE Fellowship, and begin teaching in the fall of 2017.
“As we’ve done since our inception in 1985, Public Education Partners seeks to partner with our school district and rally our community to incubate innovative programs, programs that focus on excellent teaching and ultimately result in improved student achievement and success,” said Dr. Ansel Sanders, President and CEO of PEP. “Duke Energy understands this as well. We are deeply appreciative of Duke Energy’s transformative commitment to supporting teachers, particularly teachers in the STEM fields, and setting up GATE for ongoing success.”
The First District-Sponsored Program of its kind in South Carolina
GATE provides a pathway into the teaching profession for people with bachelor’s degrees in two high-demand subject areas, math and science. While they lack formal education training and are transitioning from another career, applicants are carefully selected based on leadership ability, strong achievement in academic and professional settings, and the mindset to work effectively with students of different backgrounds.
“The GATE program represents an innovative opportunity to recruit and support aspiring teachers into our middle and high school math and science classrooms,” said Dr. Burke Royster, Superintendent of GCS. “GATE was developed in response to a teacher shortage we’re experiencing in these content areas. We are thankful for Duke Energy’s support in helping to expand the GATE program. The establishment and expansion of GATE also represents a strength of our community: a close public-private partnership between Greenville County Schools and Public Education Partners to help address a need in our schools.”
After a three-week introduction course, GATE teachers begin teaching on Day 1 of the school year. Upon completing three years of teaching, participants obtain a professional teaching license from South Carolina. GATE participants are asked to teach for three years in Greenville County, and to support their own professional development by attending classes and seminars throughout the school year.
Through intensive coaching and mentoring, ongoing evaluation, and multiple opportunities for active participation in professional learning communities, GATE teachers are guided into their new role in the classroom and given the tools they need to thrive.
Key to GATE’s Success
This strong focus on teacher development and support is viewed as being the key. Studies show that 26 percent of teacher vacancies in Greenville County are due to teachers who did not return to their post. With GATE, the aim is to reverse this trend by giving participants the encouragement and guidance they need to teach with confidence.
“This week is Teacher Appreciation Week,” said Sanders. “It is an opportunity to thank Greenville’s thousands of teachers who represent the fabric of our community. It is also an opportunity to consider how we can better recruit, retain, and advance the teaching profession in Greenville. Thanks to Duke Energy, Public Education Partners and Greenville County Schools are doing just this through expansion of the GATE program.”
Because of GATE, participants learn how to become thoughtful, engaged educators, and Greenville County Schools gains quality, high-demand teachers. For more information, and to learn about other PEP initiatives, or to get involved, please call 864-233-4137 or visit www.pepgc.org.
About Public Education Partners
Public Education Partners (PEP) collaborates with community partners to introduce innovative programming in schools and deepen connections between schools and the community in an effort to strengthen public education and student achievement in Greenville, SC. PEP is Greenville’s only independent non-profit solely dedicated to investing in and improving public education.