Dear Charleston County School District Families, Educators, and Community Members:
This year has seen unprecedented change to what we consider our everyday norms in almost every facet. From the way we interact with family and friends to the way we go to the grocery store and attend school, our community has faced a myriad of challenges COVID-19 has presented and has risen together to support one another and find a way forward in our new “normal”. We have capitalized on, sharpened, and refined our critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity skills more than ever and can reflect back on the bravery, strength, and determination it took to face a global pandemic together.
While many things are different, many remain the same such as the hardwork and dedication of our teachers and staff to meet the needs of all students and provide quality instruction no matter what the circumstances. In the realm of student achievement, we continued to see gains both academically and personally. We opened new state-of-the-art facilities to serve our students and families, expanded partnerships and student support programs, celebrated milestones, and honored our Class of 2020 graduates who demonstrated great perseverance and resilience throughout the final chapter of their K-12 education .
The 2019-20 school year began with the opening of three new school facilities at Stono Park Elementary, Edmund A. Burns and Meeting Street at Burns Elementary, and Matilda F. Dunston Elementary, and the completion of numerous facility maintenance projects including 11 new playgrounds across the district. James Simons Elementary, one of the first schools in Charleston County to desegregate, celebrated its centennial anniversary and the district received a multi-year, multi-million dollar grant Project Prevent grant to expand mental health support for children from the U.S. Department of Education.
Students at R.B. Stall High celebrated cultural traditions during Hispanic Heritage Month with their friends and families at the school’s annual Quinceañera Ball, and Citadel cadets visited over 20 schools teaching students about leadership, volunteerism, and heroism on their annual Leadership Day of service.
The district strengthened partnerships with public, private, non-profit, and higher education organizations such as the Lowcountry Food Bank to serve at-risk students through BackPack Buddies, Boeing South Carolina DreamLearners’ STEM educational program, Schwann’s Chef Collective to encourage more students to eat in school cafeterias, and Roper St. Francis to commission student artwork to be featured in their emergency facilities.
At the national level, Academic Magnet High school was recognized as the country’s top school by U.S. News and World Report and the #29 STEM high school by Newsweek. At the state level, Academic Magnet’s school improvement council was named to the state's honor roll for the annual Dick and Tunky Riley Award for School Improvement Council Excellence. For the second time in three years, Laing Middle was one of ten schools nationally to receive the STEM School of Excellence Recognition by the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association. Military Magnet Academy was one of only four schools in the nation to be named a High Flying School at the National Youth-At-Risk Conference, and several CCSD schools were selected to take part in the Academic WorldQuest challenge for the first time. Additionally, Wando High School’s band was a national recipient of the 2019 National Band Association Program of Excellence Blue Ribbon Award, and the district was selected by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Women’s Initiative to mentor young middle and high school women about careers in STEM. R.B. Stall was also recognized for increased participation and improved performance on Advanced Placement (AP) as one of 12 SC schools who received the AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award.
With over 40 named finalists, CCSD had a total of 23 winners in the 65th annual National Merit Scholarship Program this year. A senior at Burke High was the youngest recipient of the Richard W. Riley Award for his efforts to enhance the sense of worth and dignity of others, and a seventh grader at Haut Gap Middle earned the Prudential Spirit of Community Award for the state as a result of his outstanding service to others.
In addition to academic achievement and recognition, twelve CCSD schools earned grants to support their sustainability and wellness efforts, with numerous others receiving grants to support creativity and art in school and expanded after-school enrichment opportunities. The district also emerged a leader in social-emotional learning (SEL) with the implementation of SEL curriculum in 80% of its elementary schools and 100% of its middle schools.
In keeping with its mission to prepare students to compete in a global economy while making a positive contribution to the community and nation by supporting families and empowering teachers to help children succeed no matter the circumstance, the district closed out the school year facing the challenges of COVID-19 head on. Teachers, principals, and staff worked tirelessly to create instructional packets, distribute e-learning devices, implement office hours, and staff family support hotlines to provide continuity of education for students. Wifi-enabled buses were parked daily throughout our school communities and the provision of over 1 million meals at 13 meal sites and 60+ bus stops to any child in need was a weekly assurance. Partnerships with MUSC to encourage families to #flattenthecurveSC and other telehealth service providers to increase awareness and testing sites were formed, including Operation Kid Care by the district’s Expanded Learning Department to enable frontline healthcare workers at Roper St. Francis access to childcare. As a community, we came together. As a community, we are strong. And as a community, we can face tomorrow together no matter the challenges that lie ahead.
We sincerely thank our CCSD family and the communities we have the privilege of serving for their continued support and partnership in making students the heart of our work.
Gerrita Postlewait, Superintendent of Schools