State superintendent pays visit to Jasper school district
Once S.C. Education Superintendent Molly Spearman walked into Ridgeland Elementary School, her eyes light up and she smiled at the student artwork and writing samples plastered over the brightly colored walls.
She walked slowly, taking in the drawings, math samples, and stories that embody the lessons the children learn on a day-to-day basis.
Spearman visited the classrooms and talked with teachers and children. She listened as the children told her about their research project on animals, listened to them talk about books they’re reading, and watched them smile and play among friends.
“I see that there is very strong leadership with the superintendent (Donald Andrews) and his leaders and what they’re doing – it starts with that. I am very impressed,” said Spearman, who visited the Jasper County School District last Friday. “We have teachers and coaches here that are always working with the teachers on improving the students’ instruction, so there are a lot of great things going on here in Jasper County.”
Spearman spent her morning touring Hardeeville Elementary, Hardeeville-Ridgeland Middle, and Ridgeland Elementary schools, and talking with the district’s leadership and teachers. She talked with professional development coaches who are working to provide personalized suggestions for teachers on how to provide specific and targeted teaching to improve literacy and math skills.
“It’s about the instruction in the classroom,” Spearman said. “They’ve got the students hands-on, doing things, working and setting high expectations. Sometimes with children in poverty we set our expectations too low, and what I see here is they’re trying to make everyone buy in and these students can go and exceed what we’re expecting. That’s what I sense here, and I think we need to keep that going.”
The classrooms were filled with tables and SmartBoards, and every inch of wall was covered in student work and themed bulletin boards. Students were working on all kinds of tools, computers, traditional papers and pencils, books, and even with blocks. The diverse teaching methods reflect what Spearman said are the changing dynamics of education and opportunity for the children.
Changing education methods at all levels will help to prepare students not only for the next grade level, but for higher education and all kinds of career opportunities.
“The careers and jobs that are available in South Carolina require math skills, science skills, and not necessarily a four-year degree, so educating educators and families that you can be very, very successful by going to two-year technical colleges or getting certifications in high school are big changes for us,” said Spearman. “Getting everyone to buy into that is a big challenge. But I am very excited that the superintendent here and in Beaufort have come to an agreement to continue to collaborate in the career center (Beaufort-Jasper Academy of Career Excellence).”
Spearman kept a smile on her face the whole morning and noted how well behaved, loved and lively the children were in the classroom.
“They’re making really good progress here, and people need to come and support what these educators are trying to do,” Spearman said.