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D20 PCP wasting no time implementing teacher retention initiatives

The five principals from Charleston County School District’s (CCSD) Constituent District 20 who organized to form the Principal Collaboration Program (D20PCP) have wasted no time in making good on their promise to meet the needs of their teachers. These administrators are working in tandem with the collective belief that an investment in teachers will result in stronger academic progress for students.

Their efforts were formulated to address the Vision 2027 goal of all students in CCSD reading on grade level by fifth grade. The goals of the D20PCP are to engage students in real-world experiences, broaden horizons, and remove barriers to success. An important focus of the collaboration is attracting and retaining excellent teachers and staff to support D20 schools.

“To do this, one thing is for certain,” said Sanders-Clyde Elementary School Principal Janice Malone. “The needs of teachers must be met so that we can retain them year after year. Too often in our D20 schools, we have high teacher turnover.”

Starting in December, teachers and staff at Sanders-Clyde and Charleston Progressive Academy (CPA), Julian Mitchell Elementary School, Simons Pinckney Middle School, and Burke High School will be eligible to enroll their children at the D20PCP Learning Center for only $50 a quarter (made possible through ESSER funding). Housed at CPA, children as young as six weeks old will be cared for throughout the school day while their parent or guardian is instructing students.

“We see it as a way of retaining and compensating our teachers,” said CPA Principal Wanda Sheats, who has been instrumental in handling the logistics of the center’s opening. “The amount of money our teachers are spending per week on childcare is exorbitant. The children of our teachers deserve quality childcare just as much as our students deserve quality instruction.”

According to Malone, D20 schools employ a lot of young teachers who are starting their families. Many have to decide whether to stay home with their children or pay for childcare.

“Teachers need our help and support,” said Malone. “The relief and excitement my teachers have expressed about being able to participate in this low-cost childcare option is beyond measure. It is a godsend to be able to offer my staff this alternative because so much of their salaries were being spent on childcare.”

Sheats explained that a variable in improving student achievement is strengthening the teacher workforce through enhanced teacher preparation and decreased turnover. Providing staff childcare opportunities supports not only teacher preparation but leads to a piece of mind that contributes to improved instruction and academic success.

“Teachers enjoy district-run childcare centers because they're only open when school is in session,” explained Sheats. “This means that parents don't have to pay for holidays or days when their kids don't need to be there, unlike most traditional care. In addition, because it is operated by the school district, the center may be open on high-need days or during special evening activities. This prevents teachers from scrambling to find childcare when they must attend training or school-related events.”

Additionally, because this center is located in the same geographical area where teachers work, they could provide greater convenience than traditional daycare centers.

The D20PCP Learning Center is staffed by certified professionals with extensive experience in the daycare setting. What makes the program unique is that in addition to the children being cared for in a safe environment, they will participate in age-appropriate instruction.

“The hope is that the district looks at this as a model to be replicated,” said Sheats. “It could be a component to addressing the teacher shortage.”

LaShawna Watkins, the D20PCP Family and Community Engagement Officer said the creation of the D20PCP Learning Center is evidence that CCSD teachers are more than just employees.

“They really are a part of the D20 family and we’re here to provide whatever support possible,” said Watkins.

Currently, there are three certified instructors operating the learning center; Chelesea Green, Ayana Johnson, and Christaina Whitfield. Fourteen children are currently enrolled with more expected as D20 educators learn of the opportunity.

For more information, contact the Office of Communications at (843) 937-6603.