Lexington Two goes extra mile to support teachers

By Julia Spies 

Special to Lexington Two

Lexington Two has been taking a personalized approach in the way it recruits, trains, and supports its teachers. 

This district serves elementary, middle, and high schools in the West Columbia, Cayce, South Congaree, Pine Ridge, and Springdale areas. 

While all districts have a form of alternative pathways programs, not all districts offer the personal attention that Lexington Two does, said Kevin Smoak, coordinator for recruiting and induction programs. “We offer opportunities so that when a teacher is ready to move on to the next step or another area, we’re helping show them opportunities that are right here in their own home district.”

As part of its recruitment efforts, the district offers various alternative certification pathways to becoming a certified teacher for individuals who have not received a college degree in a traditional education program. These pathways include South Carolina’s Program of Alternative Certification for Educators (PACE), Teachers of Tomorrow, American Board, Carolina Collaborative for Alternative Preparation (CarolinaCAP), Alternative Pathways to Educator Certification (APEC), and The Career and Technology Education Work-Based Certification (CATE).  These three-year programs allow participants to earn professional teaching certificates after completing the coursework. 


“We’ve seen some really good candidates who have gone through the programs and have turned out to be excellent teachers,” explained Stephanie Hucks, the district’s director of human resources. 

District officials say while there has been a decrease in the number of students across the nation going through traditional education programs, there has been an increase in teachers taking these alternative certification routes.

“Teachers going through these alternative certification programs have fulfilled a role and a need for us, which has benefitted the district over the past few years,” Smoak said. 

To boost its training, the district has developed partnerships with area professional development schools to allow candidates to observe and intern in Lexington Two. These partnerships include the University of South Carolina, Columbia College, Newberry College, and several online universities.  District officials say these connections have allowed Lexington Two staff to meet with possible candidates as they gain teaching skills and experience. Several graduates have been hired directly out of the USC partnership program.  

The Carolina Teacher Induction Program (CarolinaTIP), offered through a partnership with the University of South Carolina, focuses on professional development for first-year teachers. All USC graduates can participate in this program at no cost. CarolinaTIP offers support by providing coaches and professional development opportunities. Lexington Two sponsors up to 10 non-USC teachers a year to participate as well. 

A major emphasis in the district has focused on support for current teachers. 

“Lexington Two has been intentional in trying to pair up mentors with teachers to provide them with that support, not only to help them in the classroom instructionally but to help them acclimate to the community,” Smoak said. “The mentor is also someone they can talk to and add that additional support when there’s a tough day.” 

Mentors are in the same buildings as the teachers and are assigned to teachers based on specific content areas. Mentors are trained and certified during the Leadership Summit that Lexington Two has.  

There are also virtual mentoring and coaching options through GoReact, an online service focused on skills-based learning. Teachers can send in recorded videos of their lessons and receive feedback dialogue through this program.  

Through annual feedback surveys, teachers and mentors have provided positive feedback from the mentor programs. 

“One of the things that COVID taught us is the value of recognizing the emotional needs of teachers and not only supporting their mental health but also their level of happiness,” said Philip Rabon, the district’s employee capacity coach.  Lexington Two’s employee assistance program also seeks to support teachers in their work-life balance. 

A new program piloted this year by the district, LIFT, is a partnership with the Palmetto State Teachers Association and is intended for second-year teachers who may need extra support. 

“We’re not looking at just adding more programs, but we’re looking at the specific employee groups that are maybe underrepresented or undersupported and trying to fill those gaps,” Rabon said. 

Lexington Two also provides a $2,500 signing bonus for teachers in critical needs areas  and reimbursement programs that help cover coursework fees. These reimbursement programs will cover fees up to a certain amount for teachers enrolled in one of the alternative certification pathways. 

“Our programs here are the evolution of several decades of working on it. It really is the culmination of many years of refining and retooling how we view things,” Rabon said.  “We are absolutely data-driven, and we look at results. If something’s not working, we address that specifically,” said Rabon. 

To learn more about the district and its support programs for teachers, visit  www.lex2.org


Julie Spies is a University of South Carolina Honors Journalism student.



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