Teach For America launches initiative to support S.C. students in rural and high-need communities

North Charleston, S.C., December 9, 2015 - Teach For America is proud to announce the launch of its InnovateSC initiative to support South Carolina students in rural and high-need communities with the tools needed for success in rapidly growing careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. Through InnovateSC, Teach For America–South Carolina will build partnerships with key STEM education stakeholders to recruit, develop, and mobilize STEM corps members. In celebration of InnovateSC, Teach For America corps members will host volunteers from IT-oLogy in local classrooms during Computer Science Education Week (Dec. 7-13) and host an “Hour of Code” to enhance computer science education for students.

Teach For America–South Carolina corps members serve in high-need, mostly rural communities and develop a long-term commitment to supporting educational equity. Teach For America is also committed to recruiting, preparing, and supporting corps members and alumni to lead classrooms in all subject areas, including the high-need areas of science, technology, engineering, and math.

“Recruiting and preparing teachers for hard-to-fill STEM classrooms is critical to ensuring every student in South Carolina has access to a great education,” said Teach For America–South Carolina Executive Director Josh Bell. “We have seen great success in several partner school districts with students who are excited to engage in coding clubs and computer science courses started by corps members. Working with partners like IT-oLogy helps students to connect their coursework to possible careers in STEM; that can make all the difference in their future.”

Today, fewer than 4 out of 10 South Carolina high school graduates meet college readiness benchmarks in science. Individuals of color are underrepresented in the fast-growing STEM fields. With the help of local partners like IT-oLogy and Duke Energy, Teach For America is recruiting more leaders to change this reality. This school year, 36 percent of Teach For America corps members are teaching STEM courses in South Carolina, and 60 percent have a background in STEM.

“STEM education provides incredible opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience that will prepare them to be truly career- and college-ready when they graduate,” said Teach For America–South Carolina corps member Rachael Abram, who teaches Algebra I, Algebra II, and Exploring Computer Science at Creek Bridge High School. “Courses like Exploring Computer Science allow my students to explore exciting and engaging career pathways, and to develop computational thinking and problem solving skills that will serve them whether they choose become an app developer in Silicon Valley or a small business owner here in the Pee Dee.”

This school year marks 25 years of service for the national Teach For America organization and five years for Teach For America–South Carolina, which joined the South Carolina education community with 30 inaugural corps members in 2011. Today there are over 160 corps members reaching approximately 11,000 students in the Midlands, Pee Dee, and Lowcountry communities. Last school year, more than 40 Teach For America corps members and alumni were recognized for school- or district-level awards, including 12 teachers who received Teacher of the Year or Rookie Teacher of the Year recognition at their respective schools. Teach For America–South Carolina alumni have also taken their leadership beyond the classroom—volunteering at local churches for after school tutoring, leading clubs like CS First and robotics, and coaching sports—in order to advance educational equity both inside and outside of the classroom.

About Teach For America
Teach For America works in partnership with communities to expand educational opportunity for children facing the challenges of poverty. Founded in 1990, Teach For America recruits and develops a diverse corps of outstanding college graduates and professionals to make an initial two-year commitment to teach in high-need schools and become lifelong leaders in the effort to end educational inequity. Today, 8,600 corps members are teaching in 52 urban and rural regions across the country while more than 42,000 alumni work across sectors to ensure that all children have access to an excellent education. Teach For America is a proud member of the AmeriCorps national service network. For more information, visit www.teachforamerica.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.