An innovation plan to help change how students are educated has added an Upstate school and entire district to its growing list of participants.
The TransformSC network added Monarch Elementary School in Greenville County as well as the Cherokee County School District to its network. The group also added Swansea High School Freshman Academy, Bates Middle School in Sumter County, Hartsville High School in Hartsville County, R.B Stall High School in Charleston County and Lexington County School District 4.
The most recent additions bring the total number of individual schools in the network to 55 from 23 school districts along with five school districts – including Greenville County Schools.
The initiative began four years ago with a group of district superintendents and business leaders got together to discuss ways to help students prepare for careers, college and citizenship after graduating high school.
“In its early stages, there was a grassroots effort to really innovate education and determine just what a South Carolina graduate looks like,” said Summer Ramsey, communication director for the S.C. Council on Competitiveness, the group undertaking the TransformSC initiative.
According to Ramsey, the program puts individual schools through a process to implement various innovation plans. That implementation process includes working with national experts to mentor individual schools through the initiative. Practices such as project-based learning, blending learning, continuous assessment and competency-based advancement for students are among the highlights of the implementation.
The initiative started with 30 schools and has grown to 55 in just three years.
“Now, we are working on different projects depending on the students and what it takes to get them prepared,” Ramsey said. “The momentum keeps building and we keep added schools every year.”
The initiative includes a higher education action team with representatives from colleges and universities around the state such as: Francis Marion University, Converse College, Erskine College, Clemson University, Southern Wesleyan University, Columbia College, Winthrop University, Benedict College and the University of South Carolina. The board also consists of members from the Commission on Higher Education, SC Technical College System, SC Independent Colleges and Universities and the Education Oversight Committee.
Ramsey said the processes are slightly different between districts and individual schools as far as the kind of innovation programs that are implemented.
“When a district looks at the innovation, they are looking at district-level policies and it is a little bit different than the individual school getting into the three-year innovation plan,” Ramsey said.
“The fact that more schools and districts are joining the TransformSC network shows how leadership can transform education in South Carolina,” said Pamela Lackey, state president of AT&T and co-chair of TransformSC, in a news release. “These leaders in our education community are inspiring widespread improvement in student learning and innovative thinking.”
Each school has to submit a three-year innovation plan which is evaluated by a group of TransformSC action team staff.