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Excellence in Teaching

Dr. Don Clerico

CSUDr. Donald R. Clerico interviewed at CSU in November 1989, just after Hurricane Hugo, and arrived in Charleston wondering if the school would still be in existence. After a number of northern winters, Dr. Clerico, a Florida native, was ready to move south, and the moderate-sized Christian college in Charleston was exactly what he was looking for.

He began teaching at Charleston Southern University in the College of Education in the Summer of 1990, following a career in public schools. With a B.S. in Anthropology from Nyack College, and both an M.S. and a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from Syracuse, he says he always wanted to teach in a school of Education, but because the field of Education is so pragmatic, he had to "be" a teacher and administrator first. He began as a middle school Social Studies teacher in Florida, followed by a stint as a high school principal in Connecticut. Before coming to CSU he was a Deputy Superintendent in South Portland, Maine.

Dr. Clerico's style involves engaging students as much as possible. He believes that participation is crucial to learning. His students dont just talk about teaching; they are required to demonstrate and use what they have learned. He truly believes that teaching is important, and he relishes his part in being able to open a student's eyes to help each of his students arrive at understanding. He finds it most rewarding and energizing when students wrestle with ideas, and he becomes very emotional when former students contact him about their successes.

Mentors along the way have included a swim coach he had as a teenager someone who saw in him the ability to teach, an ability that I didn't see in myself." Also during his high school years, there was the Sunday School teacher who encouraged him and became his sounding board, even after he went on to college.

In 2002, Dr. Clerico and Dr. Pat Bower, another of CSUs professors in the College of Education, traveled with a team of CSU College of Education students to West Africa to launch the first Teaching & Learning in Ghana Program. Each summer, CSUs students are offered an opportunity to teach and observe in a very different culture, while Drs. Clerico and Bower work with Ghanaian teachers and administrators. I am very excited about CSUs developing international opportunities, says Dr. Clerico.

When asked what students might find surprising about him, Dr. Clerico confessed that had he not become a teacher, he thinks he would have enjoyed either performing with a singing group or acting. He thinks most teachers are frustrated actors. In the Fall of 2004, Dr. Clerico had a part in the CSU Horton School of Musics production of the musical, South Pacific, and will play the role of Mayor Shinn in the Fall 2005 production of Music Man.

Dr. Clerico has many other interests outside the academic environment. He says he inherited a love of singing from his father, and he enjoys canoeing when he has the time.  One of his favorite extracurricular activities these days, however, is spending time with his two young grandsons.