For the past seven years, Jason Fulmer has served as a program manager for a South Carolina education-based nonprofit – the Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention and Advancement – also known as CERRA.

On Tuesday, he will take a new role with the California-based New Teacher Center as an associate program consultant.

“At the center of their work is students,” said Fulmer, an Aiken County native. “That is what draws me to the center. It’s the focus and core of everything they do.”

During a restructuring effort recently, CERRA eliminated Fulmer’s position. In an email, he thanked the staff and the board of directors for the chance to work with them. CERRA is located at Winthrop University in Rock Hill.

A USC Aiken graduate, Fulmer was hired as a Redcliffe Elementary School third-grade teacher in 1998. Four years later, he would become the Aiken County School District teacher of the year and move on to recognition as the state teacher of the year and as a national finalist. That earned Fulmer a trip to the White House, where he received a plaque from President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush.

As the state teacher of the year, Fulmer spent the next year as a teacher-leader with CERRA, based at Winthrop University. He traveled around the state in part to work with teacher-cadets – an introductory program for high school seniors.

He then spent two years with the Aiken School District in federal programs initiatives before returning to CERRA.

During those seven years, Fulmer worked with a number of programs and educators – teachers of the year, mentors and district- and school-level administrators. He especially enjoyed opportunities to introduce the tools, strategies and resources to mentors. In turn, they could pass them on to new teachers and others new to the school districts.

Such efforts are essential, Fulmer said in interview, because beginning teachers are most likely to leave the teaching field in three to five years.

“Our goal was not to simply retain, but to accelerate the effectiveness of new teachers and rejuvenate our profession in the process,” Fulmer said by email.

He also was part of CERRA’s collaboration with the Newberry College RETAIN Center of Excellence, launching partnerships with teacher-leaders statewide to establish a state induction symposium.

More than 600 teachers were involved in the past three years – assisting beginning teachers with networking, classroom management, lesson-planning and other topics.

Fulmer’s new organization has worked on projects with CERRA in the past.

“We collaborated with the Center to bring advanced mentor academies in nine districts,” he said. “I hope in the future we can expand the Center’s work in South Carolina.”

Senior writer Rob Novit is the Aiken Standard’s education reporter and has been with the newspaper since September 2001. He is a native of Walterboro and majored in journalism at the University of Georgia.