July 13, 2014

Growth adds teachers across Midlands

Steady growth is propelling Lexington 1 and Richland 2 to the head of the class among Midlands schools adding teachers.

Steady growth is propelling Lexington 1 and Richland 2 to the head of the class among Midlands schools adding teachers.

About three-fourths of the roughly 115 new hires in local classrooms this fall are in those two districts.

The additions are necessary in part to staff a pair of new elementary schools – Deerfield in Lexington 1 and Lake Carolina Upper in Richland 2.

Lexington 1 is adding 53 teachers, a third of whom will be assigned to its new school in the Red Bank area.

The addition comes after forecasts that nearly 600 new students will enroll this fall, bringing student population in its 30 schools to nearly 24,000.

“It’s what we need to do to keep pace with our growth,” Lexington 1 spokeswoman Mary Beth Hill said.

Richland 2 is adding 25 teachers, a few of whom will be stationed at its new school for third- through fifth-graders, while five are being assigned to special education instruction.

But the additions mainly are in reaction to ongoing residential development, Richland 2 spokeswoman Libby Roof said.

Richland 2 is the largest district in the area with 26,000 students, while Lexington 1 is second in enrollment. Both are home to some of South Carolina’s top-rated schools for academic performance.

Richland 1, the Midlands’ third-largest district, is adding a total of 13 new teaching positions to staff a new middle school Montessori program, expand the International Baccalaureate programs at the middle school and high school levels, and implement a new Digital Learning Environment initiative.

Several other districts each are adding a handful of new teachers, including Lexington 3 with two and Lexington 2 with 11. Lexington 4 is adding none.

Job prospects for new teachers promise to be bright indefinitely, some educators said.

But students interested in becoming teachers should do their homework, South Carolina Education Association president Jackie Hicks said.

Specialties such as reading are in demand but would-be teachers also need to decide on a focus on elementary, middle or high school instruction as well, she said.

“There’s a lot of openings out there,” Hicks said. “But everyone should really take a look at what direction they need to take.”

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