CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Charleston County School District (CCSD) is starting an initiative to attract new teachers to the classroom. The district is encouraging student-teachers to hop, skip and jumpstart their teaching careers in Charleston County.

CCSD is fighting the teacher shortage here in the Lowcountry.

“This initiative is really addressing or targeting or recruiting our student-teachers that are currently in our classrooms right now student teaching,” Bill Briggman, CCSD’s chief human resources officer, said. “We know that our colleges and universities are one of our major sources of new teachers in our classrooms.”

The Hop, Skip and Jumpstart Program is aimed at keeping the 102 student-teachers, who currently teach in CCSD schools, in Charleston County once they graduate.

“We are actively recruiting those teachers to consider Charleston instead of other districts and to really consider Charleston and go ahead and sign a contract for the 2023 school year,” Briggman said.

The incentive package is worth approximately $2500, which includes money to cover state certification fees, exam fees, a $500 signing bonus and a $1000 bonus on the first day of school.

Charleston teacher alliance director, Jody Stallings, says the main priority should be finding ways to keep teachers long term.

“You can do a lot to induce somebody to jump into a pool,” Stallings said. “But if the water is not right, it’s not going to be long before they get out of it.”

Stallings says the best solution is to create classrooms where the focus is on learning, so teachers feel supported and won’t leave.

“We have to do both,” he said. “We have to lure new teachers into the classroom and we have to keep experienced teachers from leaving.”

Student-teachers completing their final year of college have until April 29th to sign a contract and receive all the benefits of this new plan.