187 students attend teacher cadet conference
Gaffney High Future Educators Association and Teacher Cadets Kalin Ellis, Alyssa Herrin, Nikki Scruggs and Jenny Harris show off a few colorful children's books prior to a presentation for the 2012 Upstate Teacher Cadet Conference at Limestone.
By Scott Powell of The Gaffney Ledger

There was a 3-ring circus in action Thursday when nearly 200 high school students descended on the Limestone College campus to learn about the future of teacher education. 

Teacher cadets from around the Upstate presented exemplary lessons and projects they created during 10-minute sessions. For example, Gaffney High students provided details on a project in which they read and distributed more than 200 copies of the Dr. Seuss book "The Lorax" in county elementary schools.

Mauldin High Shool teacher cadet Jordyn Lyles did a session on how decorated cookies can be used to generate creative writing ideas. The session was called the "Sweetness" of writing.

This was one of several activities in a "Circus Circus" presentation Limestone College associate education professor Penny Saurino did for the 2012 Teacher Cadet Conference. Teacher cadet is a program in which high school students are able to learn about the teaching profession and spend time observing in classrooms before enrolling in college.

"The purpose of the conference was to help high school students in teacher cadet programs see the best of teaching in South Carolina," said Saurino, who helped organize the conference. "There were presentations by Milliken Educator of the Year Gresham Brown and the state teachers of the year for 2008, 2009, and 2012. We had several professors from Limestone College do programs so we could give students a flavor of college life and encourage them to go to college."

The teacher cadet conference drew 187 students from nine high schools in Greenville, Spartanburg, Oconee and Cherokee counties. The daylong event was organized by Traci Sweet of the state's Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention & Advancement (CERRA), Saurino, and Limestone College Director of Teacher Education Dr. Shelly Myers.

Students were able to learn from some of the state's best teachers at the free conference.

Brown was recently awarded a Milliken Educator Award, a national award for excellence in teaching. The Stone Academy second grade teacher shared stories and ideas from his work with the Frazee Dream Center, an after-school and summer program for disadvantaged children.

South Carolina's Teacher of the Year for 2008, Ann Marie Taylor, shared teaching strategies that she said work with even the most difficult students. CERRA Program Director Jenna Hallman, the state's top teacher in 2009, did a hands-on interactive session with students to explore the concept of brain-based learning for creative students.

The 2012 South Carolina Teacher of the Year Patti Tate did a program on meeting the needs of students with different interests and learning styles in the same classrooms. The teacher cadet conference will return to Limestone College in 2013.