FLORENCE, S.C. – The Francis Marion University Center of Excellence to Prepare Teachers of Children of Poverty (COE) is beginning its second year of operation.
The center was founded a year ago with a five-year, $700,000 grant from the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education.
The purpose of the center is to increase the achievement of children of poverty by improving the quality of undergraduate teacher preparation, graduate teacher preparation, and the professional development of in-service teachers.
Each of the center’s seven partner districts (Florence 1, Florence 2, Darlington, Dillon 2, Marion 1, Marion 2, and Marion 7) has identified a district-level liaison as well as a master teacher, who will work with the COE in many different activities.
The center’s five major goals are to: design and implement teacher education programs that enable graduates to effectively teach children of poverty; provide high-quality professional development programs; equip teachers with the knowledge and skills needed to work effectively with parents and community resources; develop a master’s degree program which leads to South Carolina certification as a Teacher of Children of Poverty; and become the premier resource in South Carolina for helping teachers learn how to provide a high-quality education for all children of poverty.
To achieve these goals, many initiatives will be undertaken or continued during Year 2.
“The focus of our second year will expand from undergraduate teacher preparation to include teachers already in the field,” said Tammy Pawloski, FMU education professor and director of the COE. “The in-service activities that are planned will provide new tools to assist practitioners as they work to improve the success of children living in poverty.”
Fifteen new modules of study will begin to be used this fall in courses in the FMU College of Liberal Arts and the School of Education. These instructional units will better prepare undergraduates for teaching children of poverty.
The Center of Excellence Colloquium Series initiated in Year 1 will continue, with speakers to be announced soon. An informational and interactive website, www.fmucenterofexcellence.org, became active Aug. 5. Partner-district teachers can use the website to access COE information and participate in local web discussions.
The COE will begin a partnership with Johns Hopkins University’s National Network of Partnership Schools. This project will enable COE partner school districts to join the National Network and be trained in research-driven strategies.
There will also be two major activities, led by nationally recognized educational researcher Lorin Anderson, that partner-district teachers will be able to take part in. The first is an “action research” activity, and the second is a year-long “social studies curriculum development” project.
Partner districts will receive the COE’s new Health Resources Manual, which outlines programs, services and other resources that are available to support the needs of children and families that live in poverty. A version of the manual geared toward parents will also be developed, using information gathered from community outreach activities.
Preliminary work will also begin on the establishment of a Teacher of Children of Poverty degree from the FMU School of Education. A timeline for the program’s development is expected to be finalized at the beginning of Year 3.
“We expect to announce within the next month our receipt of additional significant grants that will enable us to expand the programs and activities we have planned,” Pawloski said.
“FMU’s Center of Excellence is a good example of the collaboration between our School of Education and Pee Dee area schools to meet a crucial need in our area,” said Ron Faulkenberry, dean of FMU’s School of Education. “We look forward to increasing these collaborative efforts.”
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