A group of highly-ambitious and talented high school students and recent graduates are taking advantage of a unique educational experience that introduces them to careers in K-12 education. Nearly 40 students are participating in the Claflin University Bridge to Education (CUBE) program, a state-funded initiative created to recruit and prepare minority students from communities along the Interstate 95 (I-95) Corridor to enter and complete teacher education programs.A major component of the project is to provide counseling, mentoring, on-campus summer enrichment activities, and opportunities for dual credits at Claflin University and its partner institution, South Carolina State University.
I'm hoping to gain insight into what it’s like to be an education major and how to become a teacher,” said Faith Stewart, who will be a senior at Lancaster (S.C.) High School. “My goal is to become a teacher so that I can help strengthen the next generation.This program is showing me what I need to know about applying for a scholarship and how to maintain good grades.I am also learning about the mental aspects of teaching, which includes how you relate and work with students and your co-workers.”
“My fifth-grade teacher gave me a flyer about the CUBE program.I completed the application and sent it to Claflin that night.I am looking forward to coming to Claflin and attending an HBCU after high school.”Stewart will be the second person in her family to earn a high school diploma and the first to attend college.
“The program is a testament to Claflin and South Carolina State’s commitment to preparing students from these communities for successful careers in the teaching profession,” said Dr. Dora Waymer, program director.“We have seen students from the schools in this region who really have a passion for wanting to teach.They realize that highly skilled and compassionate teachers who care about their students can have a positive impact on their communities.”
Waymer also said that some of these students need additional academic support because their school's lack funding to stay current with the latest teaching methods and technologies to prepare them to excel in college. “That’s why this program is so important,” Waymer said.“We want to inspire these students and nurture their abilities and desire to pursue careers in education.”
The CUBE program’s primary goal is to help diversify the teacher education pipeline for schools in rural and historically underserved communities.This includes expanding access to resources to help students prepare to pass the Praxis exams and receive licensure and teacher certification in South Carolina.
A’Shonna Padgett, a graduate of Whale Branch Early College High School in Beaufort, S.C., will enter Claflin as a freshman during the fall 2022 semester.She chose Claflin because of the University’s accredited education program and for the assistance she will receive with job placement after graduation.
“I like what the CUBE program offers, and I am in love with the people and the campus community,” she said.“I am learning the basics of being a teacher and the importance of first working on yourself and how you can best work with the students.Teaching is more than just reading information and passing it on to the students.You have to learn about the students and what motivates them to be successful in the classroom and life.”
The overarching goal of CUBE is to provide an essential early step in supporting “minority students” success in their transition to college.The program seeks to enhance and maintain a positive academic and co-curricular student experience where first-year students can achieve academic success while intentionally providing a targeted group of students with opportunities for post-secondary education and academic support.
“I discovered that a career as a teacher is something I really want to pursue,” said Justin Simpson, who will begin the 11th grade at the High School for Health Professions (in Orangeburg) in fall 2022, “When I look back at how my teachers helped to make me the person I am today, I want to give back to younger students than me who want the same thing.
Simpson is familiar with Claflin and the University’s summer programs.He previously participated in the Freedom School and several other programs. “I believe one of the most significant challenges for teachers is to learn how students learn,” Simpson said.“They must realize that all students don’t learn the same way.Some learn through physical presentations, some need visual models, and others learn best by hearing what is being taught.Teachers must find out how to reach them so that every student has an opportunity achieve academic success.”