Straight Talk from the Superintendent - October 21, 2022
They Say It Takes A Village
It’s an age-old saying that has held true throughout the generations: It takes a village to raise a child. Literally and figuratively, it takes the collective efforts of every part of a community to support a whole child success from birth to adulthood. I like to think of this concept of a village as a living ecosystem where each component is interconnected and interdependent on the others to sustain the entire system. As each component of the system works together and flourishes, the system as a whole is able to produce more positive outcomes–better ensuring long-term success, stability, and sustainability.
Defining the Village & Building the K-12 Ecosystem
When looking at this ecosystem that supports the whole child, we know that after meeting a child’s basic needs, one of the next most important predictors of economic outcomes is educational attainment. Reflecting back on the data that is informing and driving the Board’s goals and guardrails, there are clear gaps in educational achievement and therefore attainment for many of our African American and Hispanic students that begin at an early age. This gap in student outcomes is a result of the [eco]system that is supporting the whole child. As we look to redefine and fortify our ecosystem to ensure positive outcomes for all, we must identify who in our “village” or community is a part of that ecosystem and what partnerships we can put into place to ensure we are all working together to close loops and fill gaps in the existing system.
Parts of the Whole
Mayor Tecklenburg and the City of Charleston + the D20 PCP
There is tremendous ongoing work between our staff and the community to establish and solidify both new and existing partnerships with municipal, business, and non-profit entities around the Charleston area. I’ve shared in previous messages about the numerous partnerships we are actively growing with Mayor Tecklenburg and the City of Charleston. Specifically, in support of our literacy goals and Vision 2027, the Mayor’s Book Club and Lending Libraries initiative has donated books to all 49 of our pre-K classrooms in the City of Charleston in an effort to encourage early reading development and family literacy.
In celebration of the City’s MOJA Arts Festival, the city recently held a fourth-grade read-out for all fourth graders in our City of Charleston schools and provided them with their own copy of the selected book for the festival to take home. Additionally, in support of the new District 20 Principal Collaboration Program (PCP), the City sponsored a swimming camp for K-12 students to provide the opportunity for students to learn that skill without barriers to access.
Similarly, the Eastside Community Development Corporation (ECDC), a non-profit organization which serves the Eastside of the downtown community, works to provide students and families with the tools and resources they need to attain the well-deserved American Dream; recently, CCSD supported ECDC when that organization took students on a college visit to SC State University. For many students, it was their first time ever leaving Charleston. One student shared with me how blown away he was by getting to ride in a charter bus that even had its own bathroom. It was thrilling, impactful, and incredibly important to provide these students with experiences they may otherwise have never had if it hadn’t been for community partners such as ECDC, which is committed to bettering the community and advocating for students.
Charleston Aqui Estamos
This Wednesday marked our third monthly Facebook Live Q&A with Charleston Aqui Estamos, an information and educational group for the Hispanic and Latinx community. We have been working closely with Aqui Estamos’ Lydia Cotton to strengthen and expand our engagement and relationship with the Hispanic and Latinx community over the past several months. Our monthly series is just one step towards ensuring we are providing two-way dialogue opportunities with our Spanish-speaking families, answering questions and providing critical information and resources, as well as helping to identify ways we can work to ensure our Hispanic and Latinx students have everything they need to be successful and achieve positive outcomes both socially and academically.
Chief Burgess and the North Charleston Police Department
I have been meeting with Chief Reggie Burgess of the North Charleston Police Department to develop strategies, programs, and initiatives to strengthen literacy rates, decrease crime, and contribute to an improved quality of life for all. We know what occurs in the community does not just stay in the community as our schools are simply an extension of such. The ecosystem as a whole must have positive inputs in order to have positive outputs and ultimately, positive outcomes.
As we continue to nurture our K-12 ecosystem and identify all of the partnerships and components of support that will allow the system to thrive and produce the desired positive outcomes for all, we will collectively become stronger. As a community, we must ensure that our ecosystem is prepared to support students’ educational attainment and economic success.