By: Shannon Shull
I have discovered that our great state of South Carolina has really done something right with an amazing program called the Program of Alternative Certification for Educators (PACE). The program has been bringing incredible educators into the public school system since 1984, and is open to professionals who have graduated from college, worked within the workforce and have a passion for teaching. But it is NO easy task to get accepted into this prestigious program. Applicants have to meet very high standards and pass certification tests. Once an applicant has met all the requirements and been accepted into the program, an applicant can be hired by any public school in South Carolina. When hired by a school, the applicant signs a three year contract, continuing to train and work toward gaining their teacher certification while teaching in the classroom. It is an incredibly intense program – a program in which I can vouch for because I have the honor of being a part of it!
There are so many of us passionate educators out there in every field you could imagine, who all share a love for teaching but never received a degree in education. So this program is a fabulous way for highly qualified people to get paid to teach as they are getting their teacher certification.
I am incredibly honored to be a PACE teacher. When I attended Winthrop University, I started out as a theatre education major, but the performance major was more attractive to me at the time. In terms of scheduling, I could not fit in the theatre and dance departments with the performance that I so desired AND all the education major requirements. So, at the time, I chose the theatre and dance performance focus. After working in the entertainment business in Los Angeles for ten years, teaching privately and doing arts integration in the public schools here in South Carolina, my passion for teaching led me to the PACE program.
I recently survived the first INTENSE pre-certification training at the end of July. Two full weeks – ten days, 8am to 5pm, every day full of priceless education training. We were taught everything an incredible, willing teacher needs to know in order to be the best teacher they can be. The training was so intense, it literally felt like a college education degree crammed into two weeks. Daily assessments, assignments and lesson plans kept many of us up into the wee hours of the night. One night I was up until 2am working and then back up at 5am to get back at the work before heading to the training. The program is very strict – and rightly so, because it will certainly weed out anyone not suited for or willing to be the best teacher they can be. Participants were scored on all assessments and assignments. I was determined to do my absolute best and am very proud to say that I achieved an almost perfect score.
“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.” — Albert Einstein
I take the role of teacher very seriously and consider it a great privilege to be in this amazing position to inspire and educate our young people. This year will mark my first full time teaching gig at a public school – I am honored to say that I am teaching drama at Chapin Middle School this year. I could not be more thrilled! And I have the SC PACE Program to thank.
For more information about PACE, check out their website: http://ed.sc.gov/agency/se/Educator-Services/Alt-Licensure/pace/.
Though the program is demanding and intense, South Carolina is doing its young students a great service by giving professionals with a passion for teaching the opportunity to educate within our public schools.
“Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.” –William Butler Yeats
Teachers are true gems of society and bare a great responsibility. As I begin my journey into the world of teaching in the public schools, my respect for this priceless profession is boundless!