Claflin University announced the launch of a new outreach initiative - TITAN - that will introduce high school students to the concepts of the teaching and nursing professions. TITAN is the acronym for The Institute of Teaching and Nursing. The program will also expose high school students to the collegiate environment and offer internships and other experiential learning opportunities in nursing and K-12 teacher education. Claflin will partner with six other South Carolina Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to achieve the goals and objectives of the program. These include integrating research on health disparities and the underrepresentation of teachers of color.
“Claflin University is renowned for the rigor of its academic programs, and we are excited about the opportunities to showcase teaching and nursing, which are among the most critically needed helping professions locally, regionally, and nationally,” said Dr. Dwaun J. Warmack, president of Claflin University.
TITAN is part of South Carolina’s Institutes of Innovation and Information (SCIII), an initiative and vision inspired by Senator John L. Scott Jr., focused on revolutionizing and cultivating the state’s seven four-year HBCUs and their overall capabilities and contributions to the citizens and residents of the state.
“If you want more nurses and more teachers, we need to invest in them, said Scott, a Democrat and a member of the South Carolina State Senate who represents District 19-Richland County. “We cannot have one segment of the population trying to carry the entire load when you have African American kids who want to participate if you give them a chance.”
SCIII is a nonprofit organization that offers support, resources, exposure, and aid in the educational development of all seven historically Black colleges and universities in South Carolina.
“School financing should align with educational priorities,” Scott said. “We should be building education towards a job pathway. We’ve got to introduce more young people to teaching and nursing, and we must prepare and retain effective teachers and nurses. If teaching and nursing are our priorities, we need to ensure high schools, technical schools, colleges, and universities receive funding to support these programs.”
Dr. Shannon B. Smith, chair of Claflin’s Department of Nursing, and Dr. Anthony A. Pittman, dean of Claflin’s School of Education, will play significant roles in implementing critical components of the TITAN programs at Claflin.
“Nursing took on a new look with COVID-19, and we have great opportunities to help eliminate health disparities across the African American population. TITAN is an opportunity to enhance what we do in nursing,” Smith said.
Claflin University is the only HBCU in South Carolina that offers a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in nursing. Since its inception in 2015, one of the nursing program's top priorities has been eliminating health disparities throughout rural South Carolina and neighboring states.
Smith said that hosting a summer institute for high school students interested in nursing and the opportunity to acquire new state-of-the-art technology are other advantages of the TITAN program.
“Through our summer institute, we want to engage high school students - first to help them understand what attending college requires. We want to help these students understand how they need to prepare for college,” Smith said. “This includes developing appropriate study habits and understanding the full gamut and the different practices in nursing. We want to give them experiences where they can chat with nurses and see what happens in that field or course. Next, we hope they will enroll in our BSN program and ultimately in our master’s program.”
Claflin has a proud history of producing outstanding K-12 educators who are in classrooms and leadership positions throughout South Carolina. Last year, Claflin’s educator preparation programs received accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). Pittman sees TITAN as a resource that will support Claflin’s mission to prepare the next generation of highly-skilled, visionary educators.
“Where teacher education is concerned, common among our challenges are requisite licensure examinations,” Pittman said. “The impact of program entrance assessments on aspiring teachers and teachers of color leaves no doubt that TITAN is not only essential but critical to efforts in South Carolina to sustain and develop a diverse set of educators for all of South Carolina’s K-12 learners."
One of TITAN’s goals is to prepare students strategically and systematically for tests. “We intend to engage in experiential observations that will center classroom management and the development of positive classroom climates conducive to learning and accomplishing academic achievement for K-12 students,” Pittman said. “Among the anticipated outcomes are strengthening the nexus between high schools and our institutes of innovation and information, particularly in teaching and nursing.”
Among the programs Claflin currently offers high school students who aspire careers as a K-12 educator is the Claflin University Bridge to Education (CUBE) program. CUBE is 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. CUBE is in its seventh year of providing counseling, mentoring, on-campus summer enrichment activities, and opportunities for dual credits at Claflin University and its partner institution, South Carolina State University.