Tri-county school districts join project to increase classroom resiliency during crisis

VIDEO: Tri-county school districts join project to increase classroom resiliency during crisis

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - All four school districts in the Tri-county area are participating in a national project to make classrooms more resilient in times of crisis.

“It’s almost as if it took something of this scale to show our country what the challenges and struggles are and why it is so hard,” Future of School CEO Amy Valentine said. “There are a lot of things that stand in the way and are impediments to schools changing.”

School leaders in Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties are sharing their resources and experiences with a group of districts from across the country.

The members of the Resilient Schools Project include:

  • Barrington Public Schools, Barrington, R.I.
  • Berkeley County School District, Moncks Corner, S.C.
  • Charleston County School District, Charleston, S.C.
  • Dorchester County School District 2, Summerville, S.C.
  • Dorchester County School District 4, St. George, S.C.
  • Howard County Public School System, Ellicott City, Md.
  • Joliet Public Schools District 86, Joliet, Ill.
  • Mesa Public Schools, Mesa, Ariz.
  • Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District, Placentia, Calif.
  • Sycamore Community Schools, Cincinnati, Ohio

They are focused on how school districts are using technology and teaching beyond the traditional classroom setting during the coronavirus pandemic.

“There’s really no reason that learning has to be confined to within schools walls or within the school day. That is what many mainstream districts are learning right now,” Evergreen Education Group Founder John Watson said. “They’ve had to break down school walls and break down bell schedules, so what of those elements could they now bring back after the pandemic is over? That’s the key question.”

Project officials hope the information gained from this initiative will help districts respond to the challenges teachers and students are facing during this pandemic.

“We had this discussion about what resources we can create and share with the member districts that they can then share with their teachers to improve their practices, to do that in a very efficient way that doesn’t require a lot of up front investment on the part of the districts,” Watson said. “That’s something we will be creating in the next couple of weeks.”

The school districts were led to the project by the Low Country Education Consortium, and they are able to participate in the project at no cost.

“When the pandemic started, essentially every school in the country had to shift to remote learning. Every student in the country had to shift to remote learning, and that was a completely unprecedented situation for every school leader, teacher, student, and family in the country,” Watson said. “Schools really struggled. They weren’t ready. To be fair, nobody else was ready either. Nobody expected a pandemic. They were able to respond. They were able to take the summer months to put in some improvements around what they are doing around remote learning. But it’s still a changing landscape. There’s still a lot of unknown, a lot of uncertainty.”

The project allows school leaders to network and learn from each other.

“Online learning is not new to America, instead it’s new to most Americans,” Valentine said. “We are providing grant funds for the districts to be able to participate. And what we want to do, our role in it at Future of School, is to story tell the impact that it has on helping schools, not only through these difficult times, but really propel them forward into long term planning.”

“COVID-19 has impacted all facets of our lives - including how we educate the nation’s students. Networking with other school leaders facing the same challenges, receiving support and technical assistance through two nationally known, reputable organizations, and documenting the lessons learned from this experience are all examples of benefits in participating in this opportunity,” Cindy Ambrose, Executive Director of the Low Country Education Consortium, said. “This is a networked community of practice meaning we focus on common challenges and possible solutions. Any time we can refine and improve instructional strategies and practices, it benefits students and teachers.”

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