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We Are A Family. South Carolina Welcomes 2017 Corps Members

By Alexandra Snyder

September 6, 2017

This month, Teach For America–South Carolina (#TFASCFamily!) is proud to have 90 teacher-leaders start the school year in 10 school districts across the Low Country, Midlands and Pee Dee regions.

The 2017 South Carolina corps is made up of extraordinary and diverse individuals who join in the work towards educational equity alongside a community of talented and committed teachers, school leaders, districts, and families. This will be our seventh school year in the state and we continue to value the support and collaboration of our vast network of community supporters.

In the words of Darla Moore, one of our community partners, “South Carolina’s greatest potential lies in the students who deserve excellent schools and opportunities. Teach For America is critical for developing teachers and leaders who contribute to changing expectations and achieving real results. Our state will continue to benefit from the hundreds of leaders in the Teach For America network.”

Hayward Jean, Principal at Mellichamp Elementary also shared, "I believe I’m Teach For America. I know I didn't sign up, but Ms. Brailov (a 2015 corps member) has recruited me. Teach For America believes that all children can learn, that all children are already created as successful and it's our job to bring it out of them. Teach For America works hard to bring out the best in children, because they believe that children are the best. One thing I love about Teach For America is that they deeply believe that all children are equal—that all children are powerful. And then they give them grit and perseverance. When I'm around Teach For America leaders, I feel empowered because Teach For America has power—and it's authentic. I support any group that treats our children like they matter and not like they're an inconvenience. I love that Teach For America believes that one of the greatest rewards is to ensure that all children are successful. TFA believes in kids, and I believe in them."

Paige Riggins, an excited 2016 corps member was born and raised in SC and is returning to the classroom for her second year. She shares her reflections on the kick off to the school year.

First, tell us about our school, grade level and content placement. 

I’m a teacher at Holly Hill-Roberts Middle School where I taught 8th grade, English I last year and will teach English Language Arts this year.

What was your biggest lesson learned last year as a first year corps member?

Stick to structure, and you'll never go wrong!

How did you spend your summer preparing for the upcoming school year?

I spent a lot of time reflecting on how I wanted to better prepare my students for life.

How would you describe your experience as a South Carolina corps member?

We are a family, and having the chance to hear and share common teaching experiences is an extraordinary thing.

What is different about starting the school year as a second-year teacher that was not true as a first-year teacher?

What's very different is the way I have structured my classroom from positive reinforcements, to procedures, and rigorous class work. The year is starting off smoothly and I want to end that way.

Do you have a quote or saying that inspires your work?

It's an affirmation I would say when days got tough. I am a capable person, and I can handle anything that comes my way.

What would someone be surprised to learn about your SC corps experience so far?

With the help of staff and encouraging students, my students had a rate of over 80 percent for the End of Course test.

You are a RiseSC corps member—one with ties to South Carolina. What does homegrown initiative mean to you?

Homegrown initiative means that we should always give back to our communities and never forget where we came from so we can help those who will take our current place in the future 

2016 corps member, John McBride, teaching in Colleton County.

We are so excited to have leaders like Paige in classrooms across South Carolina and are looking forward to another school year filled with hard work, joy and spirit.

Check out the first days of some other corps members below and follow us on social media to follow along through the rest of the year!