The Lowcountry Graduate Center (LGC) recently released the results of an online survey that provides an overview of the career aspirations and challenges for K4-12 teachers in the greater Charleston region. Of the 876 respondents, 45.6% indicated they are considering pursuing graduate education in the next five years as a means of achieving their goals.
“Because of the importance of retaining quality teachers and preparing tomorrow’s leaders in educational ranks, our K4- 12 Education Advisory Board felt it was important for us to learn more about teacher career goals and possible impediments to realizing such goals. This insight will enable our local schools and school districts, and the universities that are providing graduate education of our teachers, to align resources appropriately to better prepare for our region’s future,” said Nancy Muller, director of the Lowcountry Graduate Center.
The areas of strongest growth in graduate education include Literacy Education, Computer Science/Information Technology, and Gifted and Talented Education with more individuals expressing interest in transitioning into these specializations over other areas such as Science & Math and Special Education, which did not see the same positive shifts.
The survey also revealed the preferred instructional delivery format for earning a graduate degree or certificate, as 52.6% of respondents indicated their desire to enroll in hybrid classes, incorporating live video conferencing or online content delivery combined with face-to-face interaction with a teacher and fellow classmates. Another one-third of teachers prefer self-paced online instruction, with only 16.6% seeking traditional, face-to-face in-class instruction.
Teachers in the Lowcountry indicated that there is a variety of motivating factors for why they are planning to pursue a graduate degree or certificate. One-third of respondents stated that their primary goal is to earn more money. This is followed by an expressed desire by others to move into a senior rank in administration at the school or district level or to move into higher education and teach at the college/university level. Still, others are chiefly motivated by intrinsic factors.
Despite the strong value these teachers see in earning a graduate education, many challenges still exist that could prevent them from achieving this goal. The cost and ability to secure the funds to allow for graduate studies were listed as the biggest hurdles for prospective students. Carving out time for class and studies, while balancing work, home, and community responsibilities is the next largest obstacle for teachers who are working full-time.
“As Berkeley County continues to grow, it is our priority to recruit, retain, and help support the development of teachers who will ensure that all students in our district receive a world-class education,” stated Sharon Snyder, director of professional development and school improvement at Berkeley County School District. “To achieve this, we are delighted to gain further insights into our teacher’s aspirations and the challenges they face through the responses provided in this survey.” Ms. Snyder serves on the LGC’s Education Advisory Board representing Berkeley County, one of five Lowcountry counties with representation on the Board.
To learn more about the results of this survey, read the Lowcountry Teacher Survey Summary Report.