Three community members who serve on School Improvement Councils in Richland School District One are featured in the new publication, Accepting the Challenge: Stakeholder Stories. They include Christopher Fleming, customer service supervisor, Richland Library North Main; Laurann Patel, Midlands regional liaison, Carolina Family Engagement Center; and Barbara Tiller, teacher and reading interventionist, Hyatt Park Elementary School.
In Accepting the Challenge, they and other South Carolinians discuss the rewards and difficulties that come with trying to make sure public schools succeed. The publication details the importance of citizens being involved in their local schools.
“Whether members are concerned primary caretakers, employees of local businesses and nonprofits, or educators themselves, these volunteer advisory groups are often the quiet engine humming in the background, making sure schools meet their goals,” Aïda Rogers writes in the introduction to the stories.
Fleming, a member of the Eau Claire High School SIC, discusses the importance of knowing how to read, “When I saw the correlation between literacy and violence, poverty, teen pregnancy, and other societal ills, I knew I had to do something.” Fleming also provides a list of outstanding black people—leaders, writers, poets, and inventors— for children to learn and read about.
Patel, who attends Eau Claire High School SIC meetings, described a gathering in which a student talked about how the COVID-19 pandemic was affecting the mental health of the student population. She said, “Our students are struggling, and it’s going to take support, listening, and understanding from the whole community to help.”
Tiller, chair of Heyward Gibbes Middle School’s SIC and co-chair of Arden Elementary and Eau Claire High’s SICs, emphasized the need for parents and teachers to work together for the benefit of the students, saying, “Reach out in positive circumstances before anything negative takes place.”
Other SIC members interviewed in the report are from Manning and Rock Hill. To volunteer to serve on a School Improvement Council, contact your local school or the SC-SIC office, 1-800-868-2232, email@example.com.
Part of the Center for Education Partnerships within the University of South Carolina College of Education, the SC School Improvement Council (SC-SIC) was established in state law 45 years ago to provide the member training, technical assistance, statutory accountability, and other operational resources necessary for the continued success of the community-based SICs in each of the state’s 1,110-plus K-12 public schools. More information on SC-SIC’s programmatic efforts can be found at sic.sc.gov.
The Carolina Family Engagement Center is a federal grant project housed within the SC School Improvement Council (SC-SIC) at the University of South Carolina College of Education. It is fully funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Its work focuses primarily on underserved families and their students (low income, English learners, those with disabilities, those in foster care, migrants, homeless, and marginalized communities). CFEC makes its tools, trainings, and materials available to all stakeholders statewide through its website and other venues.