Back to School

EyeonEducation2014

When Greenville Forward organizes an Eye on Education tour with Greenville County schools, our goal is to give community leaders and members a look at all the positive things going on in our public school system. But every time we step back into the schools, we come away impressed and inspired ourselves. This year was no different, thanks to a great tour on Monday, February 3rd that included tours of four schools, we were able to see what students were learning, what new approaches faculty were trying and the efforts by administrators to improve the educational experience for Greenville’s kids.

With just one day back in school we learned a tremendous amount about how hard everyone is working to make students successful. All the schools we visited were impressive, and once the group had the opportunity to hear from Superintendent Burke Royster we also realized the scale of what faculty and staff work with every day. Did you know Greenville County is the 45th largest school district in the country and County school buses travel 26,000 miles a day?

We wanted to share some of the highlights of our tour with you in hopes that we continue to be a community that values our schools and ultimately a community that values learning.

Blythe Academy/ Culinary Creations
We started our day at Blythe Academy of Languages and then had our group split up. One group toured Hughes Academy and Grove Elementary and the other group went to Sterling School and Washington Center. While we didn’t receive a formal tour of Blythe, it was a treat to hear Spanish and other languages being spoken in the halls of the elementary school by students and teachers. We also experienced the lunch line again at Blythe and had a meal created from the Culinary Creations’ menu. Culinary Creations is a menu concept that emphasizes scratch cooking in lieu of processed foods and promotes the consumption of whole grains and fruits and vegetables. The menu program is now at all of Greenville County elementary schools and will be implemented in middle schools next year. For our lunch we had the choice between, soup (Broccoli Cheddar) and salad, grilled chicken sandwiches or quesadillas.

Hughes Academy
At Hughes we were welcomed by the PAC or the Principal Advisory Council. The PAC was the idea of new principal Andrew Hooker, who brought these impressive group of students together, to help him promote student achievement and bring awareness and aid in reducing school bullying. The PAC served as our school guides and showed us the many programs the school has implemented to improve the Hughes experience.

Grove Elementary
While Grove is a Title 1 school, it’s a school with a big heart and dedicated teachers. In the classrooms we saw teachers working one-on-one with ESOL (English as a Second Language) students to help improve their skills, as well as Balanced Literacy lessons being given to help students a more hands-on approach to Language Arts. We also were impressed with the school’s beautiful murals and how they made the school halls a more welcoming place.

Sterling School/Charles Townes Center
These two schools that act as one have a pristine learning environment where Greenville’s best and brightest intermingle with at-risk students from the Nicholtown neighborhood. They do their best to take learning outside the classroom and are very community focused. And unlike the typical classroom, most of the students at Sterling were out of their desks working on laptops and iPads (the school is completely wifi) in groups.
Washington Center
Washington Center serves the top .1% physically handicapped from across Greenville County.  At first, the halls seemed chaotic with screaming and yelling, until we realized it was managed chaos and actual communication among the students, many of whom are non-verbal.  The teachers were probably the most positive people we’ve ever met and all of the rooms had the latest technology, including smart boards and a special multi-sensory room with a full massage chair. Needless to say, the kids stole our hearts with their big smiles and warm hearts.
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