Teachers of the Year prioritizing diversity, cultural relevance, and teachers’ salaries

Data from the South Carolina Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, and Achievement (CERRA) finds one in seven educators are leaving their districts, 36% have fewer than five years of experience before moving on, and teacher vacancies are double digits.
Data from the South Carolina Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, and Achievement...
Data from the South Carolina Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, and Achievement (CERRA) finds one in seven educators are leaving their districts, 36% have fewer than five years of experience before moving on, and teacher vacancies are double digits.(Fox Carolina)
Published: Jan. 17, 2023 at 9:29 PM EST
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - There’s a teacher shortage in the U.S. And while there’s a myriad of reasons, here in South Carolina, the 2022-23 school year began with a 39% increase in vacant positions. These and other topics were addressed Tuesday night by our state’s Teacher of the Year, and the National Teacher of the Year.

Deion Jamison is a Language Arts teacher at Legacy Early College in Greenville with six years of experience who has already made his mark. He’s also a Black male educator breaking barriers and adjusting the weight on his shoulders.

“If there’s one teacher that is not in a particular classroom – we’re in a shortage,” Jamison said. “We need qualified and certified individuals in all of our South Carolina classrooms.”

And as the state’s Teacher of the Year, he’s dissatisfied with data from the South Carolina Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, and Achievement that finds one in seven educators are leaving their districts, 36% have fewer than five years of experience before moving on, and teacher vacancies are double digits.

“It’s very real,” Jamison said.

And that’s just the short list of eye-opening realities.

“We have to pay teachers what they deserve,” he said.

Jamison’s advocating for higher teacher pay, a more representative workforce and also support for the 55,000 educators he represents.

“I think it’s an incredible honor to be the first African American male to hold this title, but I also know that I am not the first African American male who has done these amazing things in my classroom. So, I believe it’s more of a steppingstone for more African American males to one, join the profession, but two, for their work to be recognized on the state level.”

Jamison spoke about his role during a Peace Voices with BOLD panel discussion at Greenville’s Peace Center. He was joined on the stage by National Teacher of the Year Kurt Russell, from Oberlin, Ohio, who wants to see more cultural relevance, representation, and diversity in school curriculum.

“Making sure that each and every student sees themselves in their lessons,” Russell said.

Russell who has 26 years of experience, has met with the U.S. Secretary of Education and lawmakers about the changes he’d like to see. He’s also developed courses that can be instituted at all grade levels.

“I created a course that’s called African American History, another called Race, Gender and Oppression, and a course that’s called Black Music in the African Diaspora,” he said.

During their tenures both leaders also want to seriously tackle teacher salaries.

“How do we reimagine the teaching profession where teachers are not having to work past their contractual hours – causing them to leave the profession. Leaving us in a shortage,” Jamison said.

A reality that resonated with some area teachers and principals.

“I think any budget should be shaped around teaching compensation, being a priority,” said Dr. Carlos Grant, BOLD Leadership Network services chair. “They’re the most critical and important position in any school district. Not the principal, not the superintendent, not support people. A highly effective teacher in the classroom is the number one strategy that’s going to move student achievement going forward.”

“You know, why would anyone want to go into the teaching profession when they have to take on a second job,” Russell added.

Do you have suggestions, comments or input to share with the state or national level Teacher of the Year? They welcome your input and feedback. To learn more visit here https://ntoy.ccsso.org/kurt-russell-2022-national-teacher-of-the-year/ and https://www.facebook.com/SouthCarolinaTOTY/