School briefs for October 12th-18th

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State of the Schools to be held Nov. 1

The Beaufort Regional Chamber has rescheduled its annual State of the School event due to Tropical Storm Irma.

It will be held from 8-9:30 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 1, at Holiday Inn & Suites, 2225 Boundary St.

South Carolina Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman and the leaders from the area school systems will share information concerning education in Beaufort County and the impact on our community.

Speakers will include Spearman, Dr. Jeffrey Moss of the Beaufort County School District; Dr. Richard Gough, Technical College of the Lowcountry; and Dr. Al Panu, University of South Carolina Beaufort.

Guests will also hear from a panel of leaders representing the area’s private and charter schools including: Beaufort Academy, Bridge Preparatory School, Holy Trinity Classical Christian School, John Paul II High School, Lowcountry Montessori School, Riverview Charter School and St. Peter’s Catholic School.

The cost is $20 for chamber members; $25 for nonmembers; and $160 for a table of eight.

Contact LaNelle at LaNelle@BeaufortSC.org.

Bridges educator is Teacher of the Month

Grace Converse is shown here with Mark Robertson and Brain Balance reps. Photo provided.
Grace Converse is shown here with Mark Robertson and Brain Balance reps. Photo provided.

It was a day to remember for Bridges Prep kindergarten teacher Grace Converse. WYKX 98.7 The River radio station and Bluffton’s Brain Balance surprised her and her students in their classroom recently to award her their first-ever Teacher of the Month.

Her winnings included an Amazon Echo, a gift card for school supplies and lunch for the entire class.

“It was an amazing surprise, and to have my kids be part of it in the classroom was so fun,” Converse said.

Converse was among the first teachers hired at Bridges Prep when the school opened in 2013. She was named the school’s Teacher of the Year for 2015-2016. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Erskine College with a bachelor’s degree in early childhood and earned her master’s degree in education with an emphasis on literacy from the University of West Georgia.

Prior to joining Bridges Prep, Converse taught at Sias International University and as a second-grade teacher. Interestingly, she is married to Ashton Converse, who was Teacher of the Year for 2016-2017 at Bridges Prep.

“Grace is an amazing teacher who creates such a connection to our youngest learners,” said Dee Matthews, chair of the Bridges Prep board of directors and a longtime educator herself. “Grace is pretty much the ideal for a kindergarten teacher in my mind, and we are proud and privileged to have her with us at Bridges Prep.”

WYKZ radio personality Mark Robertson presented the award along with a bundle of balloons in Converse’s kindergarten class. She was the initial winner in a three-month recognition of local teachers sponsored by the radio station and Brain Balance Achievement Center in Bluffton.

To learn more about Bridges Preparatory School, visit www.bridgesprep.org or call 843-982-7737.

Department of Ed releases test results

The South Carolina Department of Education has released the results of 2017 statewide assessments for SC READY, SC PASS and End-of-Course assessments.

SC READY assessments in English language arts and mathematics are designed to measure progress of students in grades 3-8 toward South Carolina’s new, more rigorous academic standards and higher expectations.  

SC Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman said last year that adopting rigorous standards and accompanying assessments would require an adjustment by students, parents and teachers as educators and students transition to a more challenging academic environment.

In 2017, Beaufort County students outperformed the state in all grades in mathematics and in three of six grades in English language arts.  

South Carolina made scoring changes to the SC Ready scale in 2017, so comparisons between the two years are being done cautiously.  For example, a fourth grade student in 2016 on the English language arts assessment that scored in the 25th percentile was “Approaches Expectations.”  

A similar student in 2017, fourth-grade scoring in the 25th percentile on the English language arts assessment, is “Does Not Meet Expectations”.

In SC READY English language arts:

• Grade 3: 41 percent met or exceeded state standards compared to 42.1 statewide. An additional 32.4 percent of district students “approached” meeting state standards.

• Grade 4: 42 percent met or exceeded state standards compared to 40.9 statewide. An additional 30.1 percent of district students “approached” meeting state standards.

• Grade 5: 42.3 percent met or exceeded state standards compared to 38.3 statewide.  An additional 31.5 percent of district students “approached” meeting state standards.

• Grade 6: 42.3 percent met or exceeded state standards compared to 39.7 statewide.  An additional 35.1 percent of district students “approached” meeting state standards.

• Grade 7: 35.1 percent met or exceeded state standards compared to 36.4 statewide.  An additional 34.6 percent of district students “approached” meeting state standards.

• Grade 8: 38.8 percent met or exceeded state standards compared to 40.1 statewide.  An additional 32.6 percent of district students “approached” meeting state standards.

In SC READY mathematics:

• Grade 3: 55.3 percent met or exceeded state standards compared to 52.5 statewide. An additional 23.5 percent of district students “approached” meeting state standards.

• Grade 4: 52.1 percent met or exceeded state standards compared to 46.4 statewide. An additional 27.6 percent of district students “approached” meeting state standards.

• Grade 5: 44.1 percent met or exceeded state standards compared to 40.0 statewide. An additional 30.4 percent of district students “approached” meeting state standards.

• Grade 6: 43 percent met or exceeded state standards compared to 41.5 statewide. An additional 33.3 percent of district students “approached” meeting state standards.

• Grade 7: 36.2 percent met or exceeded state standards compared to 33.3 statewide. An additional 35.4 percent of district students “approached” meeting state standards.

• Grade 8: 37.3 percent met or exceeded state standards compared to 34.5 statewide. An additional 33.7 percent of district students “approached” meeting state standards.

SC PASS results for 2017

South Carolina students in grades 4-8 have taken SC PASS assessments in science and social studies since 2009.  Science scores were converted to SC READY performance levels in 2017, making social studies the only assessment comparable across multiple administrations.

In SC PASS science:

• Grade 4: 47.4 percent met or exceeded state standards compared to 48.4 statewide. An additional 28.9 percent of district students “approached” meeting state standards.

• Grade 5: 43.8 percent met or exceeded state standards compared to 46.1 statewide. An additional 23.2 percent of district students “approached” meeting state standards.

• Grade 6: 45.9 percent met or exceeded state standards compared to 48.0 statewide. An additional 23.0 percent of district students “approached” meeting state standards.

• Grade 7: 44.5 percent met or exceeded state standards compared to 46.5 statewide. An additional 23.4 percent of district students “approached” meeting state standards.

• Grade 8: 49.9 percent met or exceeded state standards compared to 49.5 statewide. An additional 22.8 percent of district students “approached” meeting state standards.

Beaufort County students’ performance on SC PASS social studies exams improved in one of the five grade levels tested and improved relative to statewide averages in three of five grade levels tested:

• Grade 4: 81.1 percent met or exceeded state benchmarks in 2017 compared to 80.9 last year (80.8 percent statewide).

• Grade 5: 64.8 percent met or exceeded state benchmarks in 2017 compared to 71.9 last year (70.9 statewide).

• Grade 6: 75.1 percent met or exceeded state benchmarks in 2017 compared to 75.1 last year (73.3 percent statewide).

• Grade 7: 58.4 percent met or exceeded state benchmarks in 2017 compared to 70.4 last year (63.5 statewide).

• Grade 8: 64 percent met or exceeded state benchmarks in 2017 compared to 65.1 last year (67.7 percent statewide).

Looking at five-year trend data for SC PASS social studies, Beaufort County and statewide scores have decreased in all
grades tested.

End-of-course exams

For the first time Beaufort’s percent of students passing EOCEP exams surpassed the state in all four subject areas.

For the 2016-2017 school year, two major changes affected EOCEP results:  

• South Carolina adopted a new 10-point grading scale that impacts the scores of all four subject areas tested.

• Algebra I and English I scoring was rescaled to match the rigor of SC College & Career Ready Standards. Rescaled scoring contributed at least partially to fewer students passing the Algebra I exam and more students passing the English I assessment.

Due to these changes, the 2016-2017 EOCEP mean score and percent passing results in Algebra I and English I can’t be compared to results from prior years.

South Carolina students’ scores on end-of-course exams count for 20 percent of final grades in Algebra 1, English 1, Biology and U.S. History and Constitution. 

• Algebra I: The percentage passing was 77.5 in 2017 (state passing percentage was 74.7).

• English I: The percentage passing was 81.4 in 2017 (state passing percentage was 76.8).

• Biology: The percentage passing increased from 79.8 in 2016 to 80.9 in 2017 (state passing percentage was 73.7).

• U.S. History and Constitution: The percentage passing improved from 73.3 in 2016 to 73.4 in 2017 (state passing percentage was 67.8).

“Our students and our progress is more than one data point in time and should be reflective of the work we are doing in our district working with our community and teachers in preparing graduates to be successful after graduation,” said Superintendent Jeff Moss. 

Reading, arts focus on district TV show 

Reading and the arts are being featured in the Beaufort County School District’s “Our Schools” television program, which is airing on the County Channel.

About 1,500 students benefited from additional teacher-led assistance through the district’s Summer Reading Program, which will be the focus of the show’s first segment.  

In the second segment, three principals will discuss their schools’ arts-focused instruction and their recent grant awards from the South Carolina Arts Commission.  Six district schools – the second-highest number in the state – earned 2017 Arts in Basic Curriculum grants.

Appearing with Superintendent Jeffrey Moss on the new edition of “Our Schools” will be Carmen Dillard, director of Elementary Education; Melissa Murray, English Language Arts coordinator; Taylor McGillis, a teacher at Hilton Head Island Elementary; Carole Ingram, principal at Beaufort Middle School; Gretchen Keefner, principal at Hilton Head Island School for the Creative Arts; and Marvelle Ulmer, principal at Lady’s Island Elementary School.

“Our Schools” is a partnership between the school district and the County Channel.

“Our Schools” airs four times weekly: at 11:30 a.m. Mondays, 9 p.m. Tuesdays, 8:30 p.m. Thursdays and 12:30 p.m. Saturdays.  

The broadcast will air on local cable networks: Comcast’s Channel 2, Hargray’s channels 9 and 113, and Spectrum Channel 63.  

The show also will air at those times on the County Channel’s website at www.bcgov.net/departments/Community-Services/county-channel/index.php.

In addition, the show will be archived and can be watched any time at the same link.

Redemption will be topic of seminars

Dr. Janice B. Brown, a retired professor of English and author of “The Seven Deadly Sins in the Work of Dorothy L. Sayers,” will deliver a three-part seminar series entitled, “The Mystery of Redemption,” while serving as a visiting teacher of literature at Holy Trinity Classical Christian School in October and November. The lecture series is free and open to the public.

Brown, a finalist for the 1999 Edgar Allan Poe Award for her book on Sayers published the previous year, will present the first lecture in the series at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19, at the school at 302 Burroughs Ave.

The initial lecture, “The Mystery of Evil: The Whodunit and the Gospel,” encompasses the depiction of sin in Sayers’ fiction, and the spiritual significance of detective stories. 

The second lecture, “The Mystery of Suffering: World War II and the Redemptive Function of Suffering,” is Sayers’s war-time writing. It applies the pattern of the cross to the pattern of the times. It will be presented at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 2.  

The last lecture in the series, “The Mystery of Redemption: Choosing to be the Chosen of God,” looks at the necessity of preaching of Christ crucified and the way God’s initiative in conversion is depicted in three of Sayers’ ecclesiastical plays. It is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 9.

Brown was professor of English at Grove City College in Pennsylvania from 1994 to 2015. She earned two bachelor’s degrees, a master’s degree and a doctorate at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada. Located in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and Labrador, Memorial University is one of the top comprehensive universities in Canada and the largest university in Atlantic Canada. 

The highlight of her career, Brown says, was the six-and-a-half-year period she spent teaching high school English at Ukarumpa High School in Papua New Guinea. It is a school for the children of missionaries operated by Wycliffe Bible Translators. From 1986 to 1991, she served as an adjunct lecturer in English Language and Literature at Memorial University.

Her book, “The Seven Deadly Sins in the Work of Dorothy L. Sayers,” explores the world of the artist who worked in many genres and addressed many issues. 

In 2018 Kent State University Press will publish Brown’s second book, “The Lion in the Waste Land: Fearsome Redemption in the Work of C.S. Lewis, Dorothy L. Sayers, and T.S. Eliot.” Kent State University Press published her first book in 1998.

BA gets new director of financial services

Virginia Henneberry
Virginia Henneberry

Virginia Henneberry has been named the new director of Financial Services at Beaufort Academy.

She has worked in education for nearly 14 years – both in K-12, and higher education, in areas ranging from alumni retention to athletics, facilities management and procurement. 

She has spent the last nine years in administration and operational support roles for the Beaufort County School district, most recently as office manager for Whale Branch Early College High School.

As the daughter of an educator, she developed an early appreciation for school as a community, and the important role each teacher, staff member and administrator play in the education and well being of their students. 

Originally from Macon, Ga., Henneberry has been part of the Beaufort community since June 2007. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her family, riding bikes, and playing in the yard with her daughters and dogs (and a cat who thinks she is a dog). She also enjoys relaxing in the mountains, traveling and singing.

Holy Trinity raises funds for sister school

Holy Trinity Classical Christian School students and their families have been fundraising in support of the school’s “Join the Journey” fall fundraiser.

In Biblical tradition, Holy Trinity will be tithing 10 percent of proceeds raised to their sister school in South Sudan, Good Shepherd Academy (GSA). GSA’s headmaster, Rev. John Chol Dauu, will be arriving from South Sudan and joining in Holy Trinity’s celebration and Prayer Walk. 

The walk will be held from 9-10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 14, at the school at 302 Burroughs Ave. in Beaufort.