• Straight Talk from the Superintendent - August 19, 2022

  • A Great First Week; Thanks!

    What an incredible first week of school! I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to see our students' faces light up as they got out of cars and off buses eager and excited to begin a new year. It was an excellent start, and I am immensely grateful to all of you, teachers and staff, who made this first week a success.

    Reaching Out to Families and the Community

    I started off the week at Deer Park Middle School Monday night attending Principal Glaze’s Meet and Greet with families before sitting down to participate in a question and answer session Facebook Live with one of our Hispanic community organizations, Charleston Aqui Estamos. I had the privilege to spend an hour, conversing with the organization’s leader, Lydia Cotton, about the importance of our reading goal in Vision 2027.  As part of the conversation, I encouraged the community to get involved with their community schools.  I am committed to our Hispanic and Latino families and their communities; as such, we plan to continue monthly sessions to determine how we can support their efforts.  Be on the lookout for next month’s Q&A date and time!

    On Tuesday evening, thanks to an invitation by KJ Kearney, a School and Community Engagement Program Manager with Charleston Promise Neighborhood, I met with the Accabee Neighborhood Association in North Charleston via Zoom to discuss how we can better support students and families. We also dialogued about both the positive impact having engaged families has on student well-being and the partnership we desire to have with them to support the achievement of ALL students in our County.

    Our Challenges in Reading

    As we have developed priority goals in Vision 2027, we’ve seen specifically that nearly 75% of our Hispanic students and 82% of our African American students are not reading on grade level. This can only be changed through strong partnerships and deepened relationships with our families, our neighbors, in  our neighborhoods, and among our neighborhood leaders.  Like I noted above and with Ms. Cotton, I am committed to growing these partnerships to ensure the success of students. 

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    The Best Thing About our Work:  Being in Schools!

    That brings me to Wednesday, the first day of school! District leaders and I spent both Wednesday and Thursday visiting schools around the County to take in the action of the first week. On Wednesday, we visited St. John’s High, Camp Road Middle, Ashley River Creative Arts Elementary, Mary Ford Early Learning & Family Center, Pinehurst Elementary, Thomas C. Cario Middle, and James Simons Montessori. At our stop at Mary Ford Early Learning & Family Center, it was obvious what ownership students already had for “their” school.  Upon our entry into Ms. Butt’s class, a precious five-year-old, excitedly exclaimed, “What ARE you all doing in my classroom?” 

    Later that day, during our visit to Pinehurst, we held a press conference to share our excitement about the start of the year as well as more information about the work we are doing in reading, math, and college and career readiness. 

    The following day, we visited Septima P. Clark Academy, James Island Charter High, Deer Park Middle, Daniel Jenkins Academy, Mamie P. Whitesides Elementary, and Julian Mitchell Elementary.  During my conversations with teachers around the school, I was particularly inspired by the dedication and passion for teaching of Dr. Lorraine Gaillard at Daniel Jenkins Academy. This marks her 50th year in education; wow!  What commitment!

    With five children of my own, I fondly remember their excitement, and my excitement, as each new year began. The smiling faces, the reuniting of friends, the meeting of new teachers brought so much hope for the school year. It was great to have this renewed sense of hope and to be able to experience this excitement during our visits.  


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    Met an Outstanding Burke High School Alum 

    I ended the week participating in a press conference with the City of Charleston to welcome home one of our distinguished alumni, Ms. Annette Spann-Lewis, Burke High School Class of 1971 (Watch a YouTube highlight). Ms. Spann-Lewis is the longest tenured member of the New York City-based Metropolitan Opera Company and has performed around the world with the MET for over 35 years. She has returned home to perform the National Anthem at the re-opening of historic Stoney Field tonight where the Burke Bulldogs will take on the R.B. Stall Warriors in their first game of the season. We hope you will join us for a momentous evening of celebration on behalf of both CCSD and the community. 

    Thank you for all you continue to do in support of our students and families. The time is now…..to make a difference!  Hats off to YOU for making this a great week!   

    Enjoy the weekend,