Center of Excellence receives national award


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Left to right: MArk Anthony Holden, Esther Brown, (students) Brenda Hill, Administrative Assistant, Markey Bee, Associate Director of the Center of Excellence to Prepare Teachers of Children of Poverty & Tammy Pawloski, Director of the Center of Excellence to Prepare Teachers of Children of Poverty.

Joshua Lloyd, Managing Editor

For the seventh time in a row, the Francis Marion University (FMU) Center of Excellence (COE) has won the National Network of Partnership Schools (NNPS) Award for their work with teachers of impoverished children.

The award was officially announced on Sept. 1, and stems from the center’s work with schools to progress and develop programs that helped teachers encourage family and community involvement.

Associate Director of the COE Markey Bee said the work that the center does is to help less fortunate children and families, and that it is always great to see the benefits of this type of work.

“We’ve become known as one of the premier resources for teaching children of poverty in South Carolina, as well as the rest of the nation,” Bee said. “It’s an exciting accomplishment.”

The award comes from the center’s program that focused on “poverty simulations” around the state for teachers and other education leaders. The simulations were aimed at preparing educators for situations involving low-income families, and ways to get those families more involved in the student’s education.

“One of the goals of the program, as a whole…is to build relationships with families,” Bee said. “Sometime they need that support.”

The NNPS, a subsidiary of Johns Hopkins University, has continually recognized the center for their outstanding work in guiding partnership schools and school districts towards progression of education for children of poverty.

In a broader sense, the network strives for community involvement on a grander scale. Using research-based approaches, it strives to increase student success in schools across the nation.

To give a little more background on the COE, it was started 10 years ago and is a part of the FMU School of education. Their goal, in general, is to prepare teachers and education students for the struggles that may arise when teaching children of poverty.

“The training is revolved around helping teachers improve what they do in the classroom,” Bee said. “Not only do we help them improve, we try to help them understand what each student may be going through outside of the classroom.”

The center provides affordable workshops, projects and seminars (among many other activities) that provide training for educators. The center became funded state-wide after five years and is now an available tool for any teacher in South Carolina.

“We’re sort of like a gym,” Bee said. “If a school or district wants to join with us they pay a yearly fee, and the educators and administrators in that district are able to participate in all of these activities very closely.”

As of right now, South Carolina is the only state with add-on certification for teachers in the field. What this means is that active teachers can participate in four voluntary courses and become certified to teach children of poverty. The certification is through the state department of education.

“If you look at a map of the poverty rates in South Carolina counties there is a very high chance that teachers will encounter these situations,” Bee said. “These courses teach… language and literacy relating to poverty, dealing with family situations and other classroom strategies.”

Oregon is working on similar a similar program but for the time being South Carolina is the only state with such a program; the COE has played a vital role in South Carolina’s poverty teacher’s certification program.

Along with their national award, the COE is also a finalist for the “What works for South Carolina” award, which is a state wide competition conducted by Clemson University. The winner will officially be announced in October and will receive a 10 thousand dollar award for their organization.

To congratulate the center on their accomplishment or to find out more information contact Markey Bee at The COE office is located in room 220-A in Founder’s Hall.