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South Carolina Teaching Fellows





Program Summary: The South Carolina Teaching Fellows program was founded in 1999 by the state’s General Assembly and is administered by the Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement (CERRA). The mission of the program is to “recruit talented high school seniors into the teaching profession and help them develop leadership qualities.” The Teaching Fellows program provides enrichment opportunities for promising future teachers, in addition to making available to these students a forgivable loan of up to $6,000 per year of college (up to $24,000). Students must pursue a teaching degree and the loan is forgiven when the Teaching Fellow teaches at a SC public school for the duration of time that they received the loan (one year of service for every year they have received funds). In addition, Teaching Fellows participate in advanced enrichment programs at their home institution, ongoing professional development, and are involved in communities and businesses throughout the state. Currently, Teaching Fellows are enrolled at 12 Colleges and Universities across South Carolina.


  • Target Settings: Any South Carolina high school
  • Target Groups Served: Talented high school seniors interested in pursuing teaching as a profession
  • Districts Served: Information about the Teaching Fellows program is shared with all school districts through multiple avenues. High school principals and guidance counselors receive information packets, reminder emails from CERRA, and information is shared through their respective professional organizations. Teaching Fellows partner with districts and individual schools for various professional development, service, classroom observation, and practice teaching experiences during their college careers. Finally, CERRA provides information about the Teaching Fellows graduates to the personnel directors in all of the SC public school districts. Teaching Fellows self-select the district(s) they teach in and can be found working in classrooms all across the state.

Research and Evaluation

What national or other research was considered during the development of this program/initiative?  Describe the evidence that shows the program or initiative is relevant and effective.

As of March 2019, a total of 1,954 Teaching Fellows from the 2000-2014 cohorts had graduated from the program. Of these graduates, 1,392 (71.2%) were employed in a South Carolina public school district during the 2018-2019 academic year. Another 62 (3.2%) of the graduated Fellows are in deferment, meaning they are in graduate school or the military, have been granted a grace year, or had a special request approved and are still eligible to teach and receive forgiveness for this loan. One thousand one hundred and nineteen (1,119) Fellows have already satisfied their loans through service, and 76.9% of these Fellows are still employed in a South Carolina public school district. More than one-fourth of all graduates (521 Fellows) are currently teaching for loan forgiveness in a South Carolina public school district.

In February of 2017, a dissertation on the impact of the Teaching Fellows program on the development of teacher leaders was completed. The central research question asked, how does a community of practice such as the Teaching Fellows program, prepare college graduates to be teacher leaders? The key findings are listed below.

  • Teaching Fellows graduates believe teacher leaders possess specific characteristics or attributes that include being competent, effective, respected, and influential educators who demonstrate a willingness to assist others and go above and beyond expectations.
  • Teaching Fellows graduates view themselves as teacher leaders in relation to being humble, helpful, positive, and having influence over others’ thoughts and actions. 
  • Teaching Fellows graduates assumed a multitude of formal and informal leadership roles within their schools, which demonstrated the contextual aspect of leadership.
  • Teaching Fellows graduates attributed some of their development as teacher leaders to the peripheral participation and situated learning components of the program. 
  • The Teaching Fellows program provided instruction through peripheral participation and situated learning about skills for leading others and afforded its members opportunities to practice their leadership skills and receive feedback on their effectiveness. 
  • The Teaching Fellows program prepares college graduates to be teacher leaders by providing them with unique situated learning opportunities focused on education topics and the development, practice, and refinement of skills necessary for leading others while also offering peripheral participation in the program and the education profession.  This finding, and the data which supports it, provides a framework for leadership development that may be duplicated in pre-service teacher preparation programs across the country.  This finding also indicates that teaching leadership skills at the pre-service level is possible.

A full-text version of the dissertation may be found at:


  • Annual Cost: Currently funded at $3.3 million
  • Funding Sources: All funds provided through the Education Improvement Act (EIA) of 1984
  • Staffing Needs: College professors (minimum one per institution) to serve as Campus Directors. These individuals must possess the requisite skills to effectively support the Teaching Fellows on campus and facilitate an institution specific program
  • Infrastructure/Equipment Needs: Appropriate release time for the Campus Director, internal institutional funding for the program, meeting space, basic classroom equipment
  • Partner Organizations: CERRA and 12 colleges in SC: Anderson University, Charleston Southern University, Coastal Carolina University, College of Charleston, Columbia College, Francis Marion University, Lander University, Newberry College, USC Aiken, USC Columbia, USC Upstate, and Winthrop University.

Contact Information
Dr. Jenna Hallman, Assistant Director/Program Director
Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement (CERRA)