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Carol Marchel
Name: Carol Marchel
Position: Professor of Curriculum and Pedagogy

In the short documentary film that she produced, Carol Marchel, a professor of curriculum and pedagogy, shines a light on rural South Carolina schools that struggle to retain talented young teachers.

The film, “It Takes an Anchor,” takes its title from a conversation Marchel had with a school administrator she met while researching the issue.

The school has no trouble getting teachers, he told Marchel, but it can’t keep them.

“There isn’t a Walmart; there isn’t sometimes even a grocery store,” Marchel said. “It’s hard. He said, ‘It takes an anchor. There has to be a reason for a person to stay here.’”

Sometimes that reason is a spouse or home purchase, Marchel learned.

“I started thinking about what else could be an anchor for a young, skilled teacher,” she said. “Sometimes I think its the ability to make a difference, so I wanted to showcase ways that you can make a difference in a (rural) school that you might not be able to in a large urban, more affluent school.”

The ability to pursue such a project makes Winthrop exemplary, said Marchel, whose passions include preparing aspiring educators and conducting meaningful research.

A former school psychologist, Marchel said she has seen the hurdles children from impoverished communities face, including malnutrition and lack of support at home. She sees poverty as the biggest challenge for schools in rural South Carolina.

That’s why, she said, it’s critical for skilled educators to remain in those schools.

The documentary grew out of a study Marchel conducted to see how well-prepared Winthrop education majors were to tackle the challenges of teaching diverse student populations.

She used her Bank of America Endowed Professorship to study a group of public school teachers who graduated from the Richard W. Riley College of Education at Winthrop. She visited schools across the state, observing and interviewing her former students.

Her findings were both encouraging and alarming.

“I was really proud of them and us,” Marchel said, “but I was upset because many of them were choosing not to stay in their schools for reasons that didn’t have anything to do with how skilled they were as teachers or even the quality of student, but more of the context variables.

“That really led me to think about how I could share that kind of finding in a way that would perhaps be used to change attitudes toward work in those kinds of contexts.”

Last updated: 05/31/13

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