District Five teacher named a Professional Development Schools Doctoral Fellow

A Lexington-Richland School District Five teacher has been named a Professional Development Schools (PDS) Doctoral Fellow through the University of South Carolina (UofSC) College of Education.

Charity Simmons (Irmo High School) is the most recent School District Five teacher chosen for the doctoral fellowship aimed to support practicing teachers and administrators within the PDS network who are completing the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) program.

“I am honored and beyond grateful to be selected as the Fall 2020 PDS Fellow,” Simmons said. “This achievement speaks volumes to the greatness of Lexington-Richland School District Five and its commitment to building community partnerships that ensure educators’ success. I believe this fellowship will provide me with an opportunity to further enhance the educational systems within Irmo High School. As a passionate Family and Consumer Sciences Educator with 14 years of teaching experience in both secondary and collegiate levels, I believe it is important that we continue to seek ways to improve our educational systems during these uncertain times and beyond. Being selected as a PDS fellow will provide me with the tools needed to perfect my teaching craft in educational policies and strategies to improve our educational systems.

Dr. Elizabeth Currin, UofSC Professional Development Schools Fellow faculty liaison, said, “This was a competitive fellowship with multiple applications and only one award. We’re especially excited that Charity is our first fellow from the Education Systems Improvement concentration, one of four Ed.D. programs at UofSC.”

There are 23 active PDS sites in five Midlands school districts. In School District Five, there are five PDS partnerships: Dutch Fork High School, Irmo Elementary School, Irmo High School, Irmo Middle School, and Oak Pointe Elementary School. In addition, Lexington-Richland School District Five is the first and only Professional Development School District (PDS-D) that is part of the network at UofSC.

The goals of this fellowship program are to: enhance the scholarly productivity of the PDS settings, extend collaborative enterprises between the University and PDS partners, and support teacher leadership in using improvement science to address relevant and pressing needs within school settings.

The Professional Development Schools Network has been a key part of the education preparation process at the University of South Carolina for 30 years. The University of South Carolina began sponsoring a PDS National Conference in March 2000. That initial event, held in Columbia, S.C., attracted nearly six hundred educators, prompting the university to sponsor annual national conferences and helping to establish the National Association of Professional Development Schools. In 2018, the UofSC PDS Network was named the national Exemplary Achievement Award winner by the National Association of Professional Development Schools.

“The selection of Charity Simmons, as a Doctoral Fellow through the UofSC College of Education, speaks to her commitment to the education profession,” said Tamara Turner, School District Five director of personnel. “District Five is fortunate to have educators like Ms. Simmons, who will be among a cadre of outstanding educators prepared to impact students’ educational outcomes at the local and national levels.”