What is APEC? 

The Alternative Pathways to Educator Certification program, called APEC, is ideal for career changers and employees of our partnering school districts who are interested in teacher certification but need a program that supports working adults. Our coursework, classroom experiences, and mentoring prepare students to become successful teachers. 

Eligibility for APEC

Qualified individuals must meet the following requirements in order to apply and be accepted into the APEC Program:

  • Employment with one of the following school districts: Aiken County, Fairfield County, Kershaw County, Lexington 1, Lexington 2, Lexington-Richland 5, Richland One, Richland Two, Sumter County, and Darlington 2. If you are a current district employee, please reach out to your district’s human resources office to determine if the district has any other eligibility criteria. For example, a district may require that you be employed in a specific position for at least one academic year. 
  • OR a former graduate of Benedict, Morris, or Columbia College  
  • Obtain a 4-year degree in any content area

Leading the Way

We're leading the way in alternative certification in South Carolina. Our APEC Program is the first Registered Apprenticeship Program for educators and the first alternative program to use a teaching-residency model. Learn more about this recognition

How to Apply

1. Complete your application by March 15, 2024 and submit the following materials to documents@mrpong.net

  • Official transcripts from any institution in which you've enrolled.
  • Three signed letters of recommendation: If you are an employee of a school district, you must provide two letters from school/district personnel and one must be your school principal.
  • A writing sampleIn an essay of no more than 750 words, describe the personal and professional experiences that have inspired you to pursue a career in education. Why do you feel that teaching is the right profession for you? What do you believe are the qualities of an effective teacher? In what ways do you demonstrate them? 

2. Qualified applicants will be invited to interview January-March 2024.

3. Applicants accepted into the program are notified by March 15, 2024. (Accepted applicants are approved by the APEC admissions review team, which includes Columbia College and district personnel.)


APEC Awarded Black Educators Initiative Grant

Alternative Pathways for Educator Certification (APEC) at Columbia College has been serving area school districts since 2018, aiding district...
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APEC Staff and Department of Labor


APEC Named by the Department of Labor as First Registered Apprenticeship Program for Teachers in SC

Since 2018, Columbia College’s Alternative Pathways to Educator Certification (APEC) program has served the local community to help employees of...
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Tracy West Interview


APEC Center Awarded U.S. Department of Education Grant

Since 2018, Columbia College’s Alternative Pathways to Educator Certification (APEC) program has served the local community to help employees of...
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Laura Deas

"Working as an interpreter in a school led me to the dream of becoming a teacher. I am excited to enrich the lives of my future students and help them learn, not only to embrace their differences but grow to help others understand them."

Jeannie Albus

"Becoming a teacher has been my lifelong dream. The APEC program forced me to step out of my comfort zone and deepen my understanding of teaching."

Natalia Clark

A William and Mary graduate, Natalia worked with students at Bookman Elementary and served in her community before joining APEC. Next year, she'll begin her teaching career as an Early Childhood Education in Richland 2.  

APEC Resources

APEC Information Sessions 

Want to learn more about the APEC Center?  Watch our most recent information session.

Professional Learning Series

The APEC Center hosts a professional learning series called Polishing Your Performance (PYP) in which experienced educators share their expertise and experiences with our APEC Fellows, Columbia College students, and employees of our partner districts. 

Check out the newest installment of Polishing your Performance below. Math-ology: Student Edition with Laresha McDaniel

View Previous PYP Series

  • Response to Intervention, featuring Dr. Dana Richardson. Watch now.
  • REVIVED! Finding the Passion and Power of Teaching, featuring Dr. Akil Ross. Watch now.
  • Teacher Leadership & Advocacy, featuring Patrick Kelly. Watch now
Have questions about the process or the program? Connect with us directly at apeccenter@mrpong.net.

Preparation for Classroom Success

"APEC did an outstanding job preparing me for my classroom. I have been told several times during observations that it is obvious that APEC pours a lot into their Fellows and provides extensive opportunities during the residency."

"Columbia College's success in preparing teachers through its approved traditional preparation programs suggests that the APEC Center is well-positioned to provide quality professional development, mentoring, and support for candidates pursuing certification."

Connect with Us

Have more questions about APEC? We're thrilled you're interested and excited to discuss our unique program with you. Email us to attend an information session, or apply today.