School briefs for October 19th-25th

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Foundation surprises schools with cash awards

Supporters and board members of the Foundation for Educational Excellence visited 14 Beaufort County schools this week to surprise 19 teachers with grant awards.

The teachers, recipients of the foundation’s fall Innovative Teacher Grants, were presented with balloons and oversized checks.

The 18 grants ranged from $179 to $1,500 and totaled more than $10,000.  The foundation said the awards will provide innovative learning opportunities for more than 4,000 students districtwide.  

Funded projects include reading, coding and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), musical arts performances and a pollinator garden.

Established in 2007, the foundation awarded its first grants in 2009. Twice each year, grants of up to $750 are awarded to individual teachers and up to $1,500 for team requests. Thousands of students have benefitted since 2009. The $10,000 awarded this week brings the foundation’s giving to over $180,000 since grants were first awarded in 2009.

In Northern Beaufort County, Beaufort High’s Nancy Ungvarsky and Deborah Kidd were awarded $1,500 for its project called Back to Native: Pollinator Garden.

Eve Weaver of Robert Smalls International Academy was awarded $419.96 for a project called Magnetic Math and Engineering and $246.48 for Geometry in Motion: Integrating Art and Math with Origami.

John Cullinen of Battery Creek High was awarded $571.22 for Infrared Photography: Beyond the Visible Light Spectrum.

Christopher Crabb and Nicholas Glick of Mossy Oaks Elementary were awarded $1,100 for a project called Disney’s Mulan Jr.

Shelley Krebs of Port Royal Elementary was awarded $320.79 for Critical Thinking with Games.

Alexis Hines of Beaufort Middle was awarded $750 for Foundations in Personal Finance.

Melissale Rivera of Shanklin Elementary was awarded $250 for A Snapshot of Me!

High school seniors focus of application day

Beaufort County high school seniors received one-on-one coaching recently as they prepared college applications with help from school counselors, parents, community volunteers and representatives of colleges and universities.

College Application Day, a joint project of the Beaufort County School District, the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education and the South Carolina Department of Education, provides coaching and advice to students at all of the district’s high schools as they fill out actual college applications online.

“Applying for college isn’t a simple thing,” said Superintendent Jeff Moss. “The complexity of the process can be pretty intimidating, so we provide coaches who work with students one on one during the day.”

84.9 percent qualify for national certificates

Beaufort County School District high school students outperformed their peers from across South Carolina on a key statewide exam during the 2016-17 school year, according to data released by the South Carolina Department of Education.

South Carolina requires all 11th-graders to take WorkKeys exams each spring, and students who post qualifying scores earn “portable” certificates at the Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum levels that can be used to qualify for good-paying jobs anywhere in the nation.  

Increasing numbers of businesses require job applicants to have WorkKeys certificates.  

Among Beaufort County 11th-graders, 84.9 percent scored high enough to earn a certificate (Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum), compared to 84 percent of 11th-graders statewide.  

That marked a decrease from last year, when 87.6 percent of district 11th-graders scored high enough to earn a certificate compared to 86.8 percent statewide. 

Looking at students earning Silver certificates and above, 63.3 percent of Beaufort County 11th-graders qualified in 2016-17 compared to 60.8 percent statewide. A score of Silver or better was adopted by the South Carolina Education Oversight Committee last month as one measure of a career-ready student in high school.

Superintendent Jeff Moss said that many businesses across the nation now use WorkKeys certificates as prescreening tools for job applicants. 

“It’s a skills and knowledge measurement system that’s consistent nationwide,” he said, “so businesses can rely on it no matter where they’re located.  And it works for our high school students, too, because it lets them know what they need to concentrate on if they hope to land good-paying jobs.”

Moss said that a variety of work-based experiences are available for Beaufort County students, and the district is working with local business and industry partners to expand and enhance those opportunities.

State submits plan for student success

The South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE) announced that it has submitted its Consolidated Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan to the U.S. Department of Education.

“This submission is the culmination of thousands of hours of hard work and collaborative effort by the people of South Carolina,” said State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman.

“Our plan is designed to move student achievement forward and the time is now to get to work on making that happen and ensuring our graduates are prepared for success.”

For over a year, the SCDE collaborated with parents, teachers, school and district administrators, education advocates, and business and community leaders to create a multiple measure education system that provides students with a rigorous system of instruction that leads to high quality learning opportunities and academic outcomes.