The first year in the classroom can be difficult for new teachers.

“There were multiple times when I asked myself, ‘What am I doing? Why am I here? Why did I want to teach?’ ” said Mary Katherine Cox, who just finished her first year teaching seventh-grade science at Jerry Zucker Middle School of Science. “But there were also some good moments that were reassuring.”

Cox’s experience was not unique.

“The first year of teaching is mentally, physically and emotionally challenging,” said Kathryn Richardson Jones, associate professor of education at The Citadel. “Because of this, many get discouraged and leave the profession.”

About 200 teachers from across the state on Wednesday attended the South Carolina Induction Symposium at The Citadel.

The daylong free event, geared toward teachers who have just completed their initial year, was sponsored by the Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, & Advancement at Winthrop University; The Citadel School of Education; and Newberry College Retain and Empower Teachers through Action, Innovation and Networking.

The event was an opportunity for new teachers not only to get ideas but also to network and share strategies, said CERRA program director Jason Fulmer.

“Statistics show that we lose an alarming number of teachers during the first five years of their career,” he said. Up to 15 percent of teachers statewide quit within five years.

“A lot of teachers feel left to their own devices to figure things out,” said Todd Scholl, CERRA Coordinator of Communications & Technology. “The symposium is a way to give additional support and tools as they go into their second year so we can retain high-quality teachers.”

The event included break-out sessions on topics such as the “Bully Be Gone” and “We’re in this Together: Handling the Challenging Parent.”

Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or