Limestone’s Education Program Continues to Produce Award-Winning Teachers
Tomikia Whitmire, Class of 2008, was named Teacher of the Year for the Spartanburg Charter School. In the past five years, 16 Limestone education alumni have been named Teacher of the Year.
Whenever Teacher of the Year awards are presented in the area, the odds are good that some of the recipients will be graduates of the Teacher Education program at Limestone College, a program that will celebrate its 100th anniversary in April.

When the Cherokee County School District announced its winners in mid-November, four of the fifteen (26%) recipients were Limestone College alumni.

• Susan Parker, Class of 2005: Limestone-Central Elementary
• Brenda Moss, Class of 1990, Blacksburg Elementary
• Rebecca McCraw, Class of 1990: Goucher Elementary
• Tammy Brown, Class of 1992; Granard Middle

In the past five years, 16 graduates of Limestone's Education program have been named Teacher of the Year by either their school or school district, and 18 have been named Distinguished Teachers of Reading.

The Limestone program offers degrees in teacher education in the areas of English, early childhood education, elementary education, mathematics, music, and physical education. The program has also just been approved by the South Carolina Department of Education to offer undergraduate courses in middle level curriculum and organization.

How has Limestone's Education program developed into such a launching pad for successful and award-winner teachers? According to Susan Wilson, a member of Limestone's Class of 1993 who was named Grassy Pond Elementary Teacher of the Year in 2007, the structure of Limestone's curriculum was the difference maker for her. "Like many working adults, the evening courses offered by Limestone made it possible for me to earn my degree. And my Limestone experience exceedingly prepared me to face the rigors of the teaching arena," she said.

In addition to taking their courses, students in the program also take part in three field experience courses which enable them to spend time in public school classrooms, assisting teachers and providing instruction. They also serve as mentors for at-risk students.

Matthew Crawley, Class of 2006, was named Teacher of the Year for McBee High School in 2009. For him, the Limestone professors were the difference makers. "While I was earning my degree, my Limestone professors were there with me every step of the way. Of course they were committed to doing all they could to help us, but the small class sizes that the college is devoted to made my experience even better," he said.

When the time came to find employment, Crawley, along with many other graduates of the program, benefitted from faculty members who maintain their network of colleagues. "In addition to the top rate education I received, the connections I made as a student directly helped in finding my first teaching job."

As the program at Limestone nears the century mark in equipping some of the most well qualified teachers around, it continues to evolve and improve. In May, it was awarded accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).

"NCATE is the highest standard for the preparation of classroom teachers," said Dr. Shelly Meyers, Director of Limestone's Teacher Education Program and Assistant Professor of Elementary Education. "Earning our national accreditation assures that we are graduating quality teachers who are prepared to move directly into the classroom."

The program also continues to add new components to its roster of degree offerings. In August, Limestone was approved by the South Carolina State Department of Education to offer an Early Childhood Education degree program.

Dr. Paula Schubert, Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education, designed the curriculum for the Early Childhood Education program and serves as its coordinator. "Due to the constantly increasing number of at risk children, the initiation of this program could not have come at a better time as there is a growing demand for highly skilled early childhood educators," she said.

Dr. Meyers explains "the early childhood program will offer not only a full certification route, but an add-on for teachers with existing certificates. This means Limestone will be increasing the number of highly qualified teachers in the field of early childhood and therefore helping improve the quality of education available for our community's youngest students."