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Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

Education department to hire a full-time assistant professor of education in the fall

By McAlpin Ott, staff writer & Brandi Wylie, editor-in-chief

Now serving in her third semester as an adjunct professor in the Wofford education department, Debra Bishop is only a temporary fix to a larger problem: The interest in the education department is tremendously growing, and it will need another full-time faculty member. 

Christina Johnson ‘95, senior instructor of education, has been the only full-time faculty member consistently offering courses since Ed Welchel, professor of education, retired. With the most recent registration season leaving many students in need of a seat in her class, there is a clear need for a new faculty member. 

“The new hire is the obvious next step, at this point, because we have to keep up with the demand of students who want to take classes in this department,” Johnson said. “Now that the minor is in place, the next step is going to be a new hire so that students who plan to minor in education can actually get into the required classes.”

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“This is a great problem to have, so I am not complaining. I remember when I began teaching here 11 years ago, and some semesters I only had seven or eight students in my upper-level courses. I am now maxed out in all my courses. I am thankful and excited about this.”

As will be the case with the new faculty member, professors are traditionally hired on to teach a 3-1-3 course load, with three classes in the fall semester, one during Interim and an additional three during spring. 

Next semester, Johnson will be teaching two sections of the introductory course, EDUC-200: Foundations of Education, as well as three upper-level courses, EDUC-320: Human Growth and Development, EDUC-330: Educational Psychology and EDUC-340: Teaching of Reading. 

Bishop is only responsible for one course as an adjunct faculty member, which is a third section of EDUC-200: Foundations of Education. 

Johnson said that almost every seat filled up on the first day of registration, and, while she was attempting to fit everyone who wanted overrides in, she had to eventually stop adding names to her “override request” list because of how overwhelming it became. 

“Mrs. Johnson works so, so hard to get everyone the courses they need,” said Anna Turner ‘23, an education minor. 

The addition of another faculty member should help alleviate some of this stress for Johnson and students as interest continues to rise for the education minor. 

Wofford and Converse University have had a partnership agreement for decades, but it was not until 2018 when Wofford’s teacher education program decided to change direction that students started to take advantage of such a partnership. 

Right now, six courses are required for the education minor, in addition to an interim course. The partnership with Converse will allow students to earn a Wofford’s bachelor’s degree of their choosing and then apply five of the six education courses to their Master of Arts in Teaching at Converse. Students who are admitted to this program will be able to transfer fifteen hours towards their MAT.

This program could take as little as one year to complete for students interested in secondary education, but degrees in fields such as elementary or early childhood education may take up to 18 months or longer because of the additional courses required for that specialization. 

The faculty member should officially start in Aug. 2023, as the process to hire a new, full-time faculty member in academia takes a while to complete. 

The first step in the process is to form a search committee, which is currently where the process is. This committee is composed of some members of the Teacher Education Committee, which has been in place since before the teacher certification process was removed. 

The Teacher Education Committee’s former role was to support the education department and assist in approving students as they move through the teacher certification process. There is a member representative of several content areas, such as math, science, humanities and world languages, present on this committee. 

“(This committee) has been instrumental and very supportive of our department, the program, the minor, the new hire, and all of our progress and changes,” Johnson said. “They have been willing to help me in every way that they could, and I am forever grateful to each of them.”

This committee will soon publicly post the job advertisement, which will be available for several weeks. Once the applications come in, they will perform interviews on those who meet the requirements and then invite a couple of final candidates to campus to make an official decision. 

Johnson is chair of this committee and leading the search efforts.

“I have full confidence in our search committee and am really hoping for the best in our candidates,” Johnson said. “Once they get here and meet our exceptional students, I am hoping that they will want to expand on our current (practicum) experiences and current partnership with Meeting Street Academy.” 

This past semester, the education department added a new partnership with Meeting Street Academy in Spartanburg County School District Seven. This partnership is the type of experience that she wants to continue to provide her students.

Johnson is also a trustee on the Spartanburg School District Six School Board, so she invites her students to attend a board meeting and tour schools, as well. She wants them to have a realistic picture of what education looks like today. 

“I am very excited about having a new colleague, and I plan to support him/her every way that I can, which will include sharing how I do my classes,” Johnson said.

Johnson does not desire to expand the department much more than this, as she believes the intimacy as well as the community-based, practicum experiences is what draws students to the department. 

“I often tell our community that my students are the very best, and I believe our future is bright if any of my students choose a career in teaching,” Johnson said.

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Brandi Wylie
Brandi Wylie, Editor-In-Chief
Education Major from Spartanburg, SC
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