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South Florence High School teachers chosen for fellowship program

It may be close to the end of the school year but several teachers from South Florence High School will soon be headed back into the classroom: Lennette Diggs, Clare Smith, and Hope Moyo, applied for and were accepted into the Hollyhock Fellowship Program at Stanford University.

Around 80 teachers from across the United States will be housed on the Stanford campus as they gather for all expenses paid professional development.

“When I looked at the program information and I saw that it was something that would deepen my understanding of what I was doing as a teacher and would help me reach more students than what I’m reaching, I was interested,” Smith said. “I talked to our principal Kim Mack and she said that Hope Moyo had also expressed an interest. We needed a team to apply so I talked to Ms. Diggs, my partner in crime, and she came on board too; she and I are on the same teaching team.”

Diggs said that the application for the fellows program was interesting because it was more than just paperwork.

“We had a lot of fun putting together our application because we had to submit a video to get their attention,” Diggs said. “We submitted a video on our enthusiasm about being in this program and how excited we are about learning more and providing equity for our students.”

The application was submitted in January and they found out in March that they’d been accepted.

“They told us we were the only team from South Carolina to ever apply,” Smith said. “And we were accepted. That was very exciting for us.”

Diggs said she is interested to connect with same-subject teachers from other states.

“I cannot wait to see what teachers in other places are doing,” Diggs said. “They might be in the same subject but they might be doing something bigger, or I might be doing something bigger. I’m excited to roll up my sleeves and see what we can do.”

Smith and Diggs, who have been teaching for 29.5 years and 34 years respectively, said that the program is geared more toward younger teachers but that that they are excited to learn new things and share it with the teachers at their school.

“They were looking for new teachers but we told them that it takes a foundation to keep teachers,” Smith said. “We have been in it so we can encourage teachers to stay and help build that camaraderie in teachers who are just coming in. Sometimes it gets rough but don’t give up because it is worth it. We understand so we can mentor them.”

Diggs said that having another teacher to bounce ideas off of helps

“There might be rough periods and it is always great to be able to go to someone else and say, I need you to listen to me. How would you handle this,” Diggs said. “Relevancy is important, especially in dealing with children because they have feelings and they all learn differently. What she is doing might not be reaching a child but I might be able to give her some advice and help her come up with something to help reach them.”

Smith said that they will take a lesson from their classrooms to the fellowship program and work on ways to improve them.

“We have to record a 15-minute lesson and bring it with us when we go out to California this summer,” Smith said. “What they will do is help us develop that conversation, that back and forth, between our students. We want to increase equity among all students, not just those top students. We want to learn ways to reach that student who is not self-motivated and can’t see past ninth grade. Those are the kinds of things they want to help us develop.”

Diggs said that the fellowship program is a two-year commitment and the conversations between participants will continue via conference calls even after the two on-site portions end.