Challenge Accepted, Game On! These are words that push us out of our comfort zone into new uncharted waters. The Beacons of Beech Hill join schools from around the world in meeting a new series of daunting and formidable challenges. The ramifications of the pandemic, the impact of wellness and mental health and the ever-changing transitory nature of our communities create challenges for schools working to function and thrive. Despite these trials, our stakeholders are fully committed to ensuring that our children enjoy the benefits of a bright and brilliant Beacon Experience.
Beech Hill, a Palmetto’s Finest School and a 2018 National Blue Ribbon Award recipient, strives to continue to make learning relevant and engaging in preparing our learners to be world class and globally competitive. With an enrollment of over a thousand students, we also aim to make our school a close-knit learning hub where stakeholders are heard, seen, and empowered. These expectations drive our academic agenda but also embrace our desire to meet the needs of the Whole Child.
Our Mission, Vision, and Core Values are at the heart and soul of our school foundation and demonstrative in nature. Our mission, "Beech Hill will lead the way to lifelong learning through excellence, leadership and empowerment," serves as a charge in helping to make sure our place is world class, cutting-edge, and state-of-the-art.
Our vision that "every student meets or exceeds benchmark goals" requires an intense, comprehensive scrutiny of data through a student-centered lens. We then use that critical information to deliver targeted instruction. Our goal is to not only meet the needs of the learner but to expand his/her thinking with rigorous and relevant experiences. We pursue academic excellence by striving to meet state, district, and school targets, but our priority remains on student growth and the non-cognitive development of the learner.
Our CORE Values anchor our work and purpose: "Because children come first, Excellence, leadership and empowerment are standard. All of us are nurtured, guided, and supported to become our best. Creativity, collaboration, passion, and purpose drive our direction. Ownership, scholarship, and citizenship chart our course. Nothing is too difficult, costly, or taxing to keep us from reaching our destination. Sailing with the winds of a growth mindset, Beacons change the world."
To prepare our learners for the world, we arm our staff with a bounty of resources and operate with a differentiated model for professional development. This freedom to pursue and explore interests, strengths, and weaknesses yields positive and productive results. Working within the parameters of school, district, and state expectations, teachers have found and tested varied resources and strategies. All teachers were enrolled in ASCD’s online professional development package, Activate, which provides them countless resources to examine and experience.
Our central theme of “purposeful play” as a tool for engagement has generated an abundance of new instructional strategies and ideas. Teachers have increased their use of games, simulations, role play, and other forms of playful engagement to enhance instruction and learning. Additional initiatives have become a part of the Beacon Experience either by our pursuit of stronger instruction or out of necessity. The Third Teacher, interactive boards and displays, provide additional support for learning and serve as high-interest zones for learning. Our Outdoor Classrooms, a by-product of our COVID-19 protocol, remain in high demand. We now know more about the physical and emotional needs of our students and its impact on learning. As a result of our study and research, we now include The Extra Mile in our schedule. This is a 10-minute brain-break from classroom activities where students set their own agenda to walk, talk or simply take-in fresh air and sunshine. To provide that sense of stability and emotional well-being, the school starts each morning with a morning Huddle on the Hill. This session may be a relevant read aloud, a team-building challenge, or a gathering of thoughts and ideas via a community circle.
The past few years has presented some remarkable challenges but also opportunities for reexamining and revisiting our norms. Some of these challenges have forced us to eliminate outdated practices, accentuate effective strategies, and innovate with a new-found excitement and enthusiasm. As we continue to navigate these waters, we are confident and anchored knowing that our children will continue to be our priority and drive our practice. We brave the hurdles of school as a pathway to growth and expansion. Challenge Accepted! Game On!