Undeterred by a worldwide pandemic, Bamberg-Ehrhardt Middle School (BEMS) made the adjustments necessary to help all of our students develop the world-class skills of the South Carolina Graduate. We are a small, neighborhood school located in rural Bamberg County (Bamberg School District One). BEMS has approximately 200 students and a staff of 30 including 19 certified educators. Our local community has surrounded us with support during this unprecedented challenge presented by the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
We are fortunate to have various stakeholders, including parents and extended family members, businesses and industries, local institutions of higher education, community organizations, medical and mental health providers, and the faith-based community. Our stakeholders generously provided us with input and resources which allowed BEMS to focus on ensuring that all students enter high school on track for college and career readiness with world-class knowledge, world-class skills, and life and career characteristics!
BEMS utilized the LEAP week opportunity provided by the state of South Carolina one week before school reopening. LEAP week allowed BEMS to assess all of our students academically and emotionally. LEAP week provided a jump start to a unique school year. BEMS reopened with two weeks of virtual instruction for all students. After this time, BEMS offered both in-person and virtual learning. Equipped with the student performance data from LEAP and the South Carolina Priority Standards, the faculty collaborated to impart world-class knowledge in all instructional areas.
Academic recovery was a priority as we continued with intervention to include software such as Dreambox Learning. Instruction at BEMS was rooted in technology with the South Carolina Computer Science and Digital Learning standards weaved seamlessly throughout each course offered. Every classroom was equipped with 4K cameras and Interactive LED panels to provide a conduit for virtual learning. All students and teachers were supplied with individual Chromebooks that allowed lessons to be accessed via Google Classroom. After-school support/ intervention along with a summer recovery program was utilized to address COVID-19 learning loss. All teachers were provided with intensive, targeted, and continuous professional development throughout the school year.
Despite the challenges of dual-modality learning, BEMS continued our Honors Program offering both English 1 and Algebra 1. BEMS was proud to add Art 1 for the first time to our Honors Program. Students had the opportunity to earn three Carnegie Units this past school year. Our honor students took the PSAT in a socially distant environment this school year. One student qualified as a South Carolina Junior Scholar. Thirty 7th and 8th-grade students were inducted into Junior Beta Club Induction in a modified ceremony.
Although many hands-on and out-of-school activities were curtailed due to COVID-19 restrictions, BEMS students learned world-class skills through an array of opportunities that developed their aptitude for creativity, innovation, critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, and self-awareness of learning styles. Career development lessons were presented through the guidance department at various times throughout the year. In addition to the usual instruction on soft skills, BEMS students were provided instruction on etiquette for a virtual environment and electronic communications.
BEMS continued our Raider Farm and Garden with the assistance of the Salt Catcher Leadership Program. The Raider Farm and Garden has been recognized by the United States Department of Agriculture as a certified produce vendor. Our science department manages the Farm and Garden which provides lessons in STEAM for our students. Our Raider Farm and Garden is made possible with partnerships with the South Carolina Garden and Education Instruction Program, Southeastern Housing and Development, the Tri-County Health Network, and Bamberg County’s Clemson Extension.
Life and Career Characteristics such as integrity, self-direction, and interpersonal skills are learned inside the classroom and in other settings. By following federal and state COVID-19 health and safety policies, our students were able to participate in extracurricular activities to include band, baseball, cross country, football, golf, soccer, softball, track, volleyball, and wrestling. Social and emotional health was critical this school year. Our extra-curricular activities provided a distraction along with allowing our students to have fun and create memories. Students also learned traits such as cooperation, teamwork, and interpersonal skills which prepare them for future success.
BEMS experienced a successful school year albeit a challenging one. We are looking forward to the end of COVID-19 and recovering learning that was lost. In the meantime, with the support of our stakeholders, BEMS will continue to strive to move every student toward the Profile of the South Carolina Graduate.
Denise L. Miller,