Former student returns as teacher of previously segregated Timmonsville school

Pee Dee

TIMMONSVILLE, S.C. (WBTW) — Teachers around the country are preparing for the upcoming school year. For one first-time teacher in Timmonsville, that means returning to the school he attended as a student.

Titus Echols hopes he can use this common ground to connect with his class.

“Decorating my door, trying to get my classroom together, I am so excited,” Echols said. “There are no words that can describe my excitement.”

Echols spent Thursday getting his classroom ready for the school’s open house.

He’s wanted to teach since he was in the ninth grade. He recalled one instructor at Brockington Elementary who showed him it was possible- his fifth grade teacher, Mr. Brown.

“There weren’t a lot of male teachers and there weren’t a lot of black teachers, so to have him there served as a representation that you can do this,” Echols said.

Though Mr. Brown doesn’t teach at the school anymore, several of his other teachers do.

“The teachers that I work with were my elementary school teachers,” Echols said. “So I’m right across the hall from them and they call me Mr. Echols, and it’s weird.”

Echols will teach fifth grade social studies. He said the students will learn about a time in history that is interesting to him.

“In fifth grade, there are a lot of good things that are happening in history, like the Civil Rights Movement,” Echols said.

He hopes to use his knowledge of the area to localize those lessons.

“There are actually some staff here that were in Timmonsville when there was segregation,” Echols said. “I actually want to get them talking to get some different perspectives.”

He also hopes his knowledge of Timmonsville will help him form better relationships with his students.

“Because I’m from here, I know the students, I know the parents, I know their family members,” Echols said.

He is part of the Teach For America non-profit organization. He said Timmonsville was not originally one of the areas the program serves, but he was able to pull some strings to make it happen.

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