Fort Dorchester Elementary School (FDES) is helping all students develop the world class skills and life and career characteristics of the Profile of the South Carolina Graduate by taking the 2021-2022 school year by the TAIL (Teamwork, Achievement, Integrity, Leadership, and Service). Our school motto encompasses everything our students need to be successful life-long learners. Our students strive to build a community of learners through teamwork with peers, teachers, parents, and community members. Our students and families come from numerous countries and speak a multitude of different languages. These diverse student backgrounds provide for unique opportunities for Teamwork! Along with our community members, we work together as a school family to create data-driven decisions to enhance student achievement. Students also develop the World Class Skills of the Profile of the South Carolina Graduate by being student centered and providing a variety of opportunities that include a STEAM lab, extra-curricular activities, and technology designed to help children learn in their particular learning style. Rigorous standards in English Language Arts and math begin in the 4K classroom and continue through fifth grade. Creativity and Innovation are critical skills for our students to embrace. The school’s STEAM lab allows the creative mind to reach beyond where modern-day standards can go. Students are exposed to critical thinking and problem-solving challenges that require teamwork, “outside of the box” thinking, and the ability to see a project through.
Our “T.A.I.L.S.” of World Class Knowledge are powerful. We utilize an instructional program that is based on the South Carolina College and Career Readiness Standards. These standards serve as the focus for all instruction. Our school utilizes many different assessments to differentiate instruction for students. We use our Professional Learning Communities as a blueprint. Our teacher-led data-analysis discussions and our RTI model guide our daily instructional decisions. Teachers devote approximately two hours daily to ELA and 80-minutes for math, utilizing a variety of instructional strategies to meet each child’s individual needs. We address SC Social Studies and Science Standards by integrating literature and technology, weekly readers, grade-level projects, and other innovative strategies. Standards are taught through hands-on activities, journaling, leveled readers, and inquiry lessons. Our full time ESOL teacher provides increased support for targeted students with various needs.
At FDES our diverse group of students brings many different outlooks, perspectives, and ideas to produce creative programs for our school family. Students expand their creativity through a variety of after-school clubs. Communication is essential to foster parent and community involvement. Notices of school activities, meetings, and upcoming events are sent home in weekly newsletters and are posted on our school website and Facebook page. Conferences, emails, BlackBoard telephone calls, postcards, and notes are forms of everyday communication. Events such as curriculum nights, PTA events, and community spirit nights are held throughout the school year.
Preparing our Gators for a global society is a focus paramount to establishing a successful learning environment. Career awareness is incorporated into all aspects of our school life. Team competitions give students time to practice interpersonal and communication skills through professionalism and leadership. Our “T.A.I.L.S.” of student leadership gives our school a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Our student Gator Greeters and Gator Patrol greet students and parents each morning. Student Council consists of representatives from each fifth grade homeroom, and they help make important decisions that affect student learning. By offering our students an abundance of leadership opportunities, we hope to instill in them a sense of pride and empowerment. The careful planning of Career Awareness and life skills allows our Gators to explore a diverse array of career options as they prepare to work in the 21st century.
Annette M. Pletcher