Straight Talk with the Superintendent - September 23, 2022
What a start to the day with temperatures dipping into the 60s this morning! I don’t know about you, but it was a welcome reprieve from the heat and humidity and a nice way to kick off the fall season this week. I hope everyone has had a great week and a fantastic Friday as our students were released early today for teachers and staff to have some time to work.
On Monday, Principal Smalls invited me to attend a Learning Walk at Chicora Elementary. During the walk, I visited classrooms and saw first-hand the gains our students are making in reading, math, and science. It is always a bright spot in my week when I’m in schools, spending time with staff and students.
I also got to spend time with Dr. Gadson and the staff at Northwoods Middle on Wednesday afternoon and celebrate the first few weeks of school over pizza and cake. It was a fun celebration and one I hope to do more with other school staffs in the weeks and months to come.
Board Governance Engagement Sessions
The Board of Trustees’ Student Outcomes Governance Engagement Sessions are well underway with at least two in-person sessions held each night in different parts of the County as well as online via Zoom during the day yesterday. If you haven’t had the opportunity to participate in a session yet, there are two being held next Tuesday, September 27, at Lucy Beckham High and St. John’s High at 6 PM before the series concludes (full schedule).
You can also share your feedback via survey; it includes questions about things students should now/be able to do after each grade level and upon graduation; things CCSD should prioritize as a system; as well as things you think the District should not do in its attempts to accomplish priorities.
Aqui Estamos Partnership
As shared in last week’s message, I engaged this week in our monthly Q&A with Lydia Cotton of Charleston Aqui Estamos via Facebook Live. We had an exciting discussion with Principal Steve Larson and Assistant Principal Claudia Newbern about the Newcomer Center at R.B. Stall High School that opened this year; the Center supports our new multilingual students and families at Stall.
We also discussed services offered by the Office of Translation and Interpretation Services as well as the resources it makes available for our multilingual families across the County.
Save the date for next month’s Q&A on Wednesday, October 19.
Family Data Conferences
Beginning October 21st (Teacher Workday/PD), schools will start hosting family data conferences for elementary and middle school students through December 16. These conferences are valuable opportunities for families and teachers to interact and discuss student progress and needs. Schools will begin sharing the message with families next week followed by districtwide messaging throughout the month of October in order to generate greater awareness of the opportunity to meet with teachers and the importance of these conversations. Additional information will be shared by your school leadership this week.
Van Gogh Experience
One of the highlights of this week was visiting the Beyond Van Gogh Immersive Experience [link to FB] with students from Mitchell Elementary, Sanders-Clyde Elementary, and Simmons-Pinckney Middle. It was an amazing experience to both see Van Gogh’s art brought to life and to share in an impressionable experience that will undoubtedly stay with students throughout their K-12 journey.
I want to give a big thank you to the District 20 Principal Collaboration Program (PCP) that has partnered with community and civic organizations to make this and other experiences outside the classroom possible for students.
Early Childhood Expansion
Our Early Childhood Readiness Programs Office has been hard at work for the past several months evaluating the barriers to kindergarten readiness our students face in the District and state and developing short and long-term solutions to address these challenges. Specifically, we know there are several factors that contribute to this challenge:
Interest, but no space: There are students, particularly in areas of high need, who are currently on waitlists for early childhood programming, but there is no facility space available to serve them at present;
Space, but low interest: There is space in early childhood programs in rural parts of the County but low enrollment by families in their neighborhood schools;
Lack of universal awareness: There are still families in all parts of the county who are not aware of the early childhood offerings in the District, and as a result, there are not enough students overall enrolled in early childhood programs
Private provider training: Many private providers of childcare exist around the county, but do not have the resources a school district has to train staffs. Partnerships between those providers and the District will allow CCSD to provide resources to their staffs that will ultimately benefit students once they matriculate into the school system.
In the short-term, our Operations and Facilities staff is working hard and quickly to find space where there are waitlists–as space should not be an impediment to serving students and families who want and need early childhood education. Additionally, we are working across all departments on ramping up family engagement to ensure that we are educating our families on the opportunities available and on learning how best to serve them in removing barriers that may exist.
A kickoff to early childhood education family engagement efforts will be the CCSD Early Childhood Summit that is scheduled for November 30. More details to come, but save the date as this event will be key in bringing together our families to learn about all the early childhood programming and resources available in CCSD.
Thank you for another outstanding week in CCSD. I hope you have a restful and relaxing weekend.