For STEM and STEAM, steady stream of interest
A steady stream of parents and children filed in and out of the J.B. Beck Administration Building seeking information about the Georgetown County School District’s new Magnet Schools Assistance Program.
Some had already made up their minds to send their children to school in the Carvers Bay area and filled out an online application before heading home.
Others were undecided and left with the information they gathered to make a decision at a later time. The deadline to apply for the program is April 28.
Whichever group the parents fell into, Superintendent Keith Price was happy to see them.
“The stream of traffic has been steady, but it’s hasn’t been overwhelming,” Price said during a showcase for the program this week. “I think folks have had the opportunity to stop in and have very detailed, one-on-one conversations with representatives from each school. I see lots of smiling faces.”
The magnet program will begin at Brown’s Ferry, Plantersville and Pleasant Hill elementary schools, and Carvers Bay middle and high schools when the new school year starts in August. Each school will have its own theme: creative and performing arts, digital immersion, STREAM (science, technology, reading, engineering, arts, math), STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, math), and early college and career.
Principals and staff members from all five schools were on hand Monday to give out information – and in some cases candy – and answer questions.
“No one’s really throwing them a curveball,” Price said. “There’s a couple questions about some transportation details, but overall lots of good inquiring questions about the program.”
Johanna Verner, the curriculum coach at Plantersville, said the staff is “bubbling over with excitement” about the transition to a digital immersion school.
“Teachers of course are going to be learning new things like ways to immerse technology, more hands-on learning and project-based learning into the curriculum,” Verner said.
Verner called immersion the “education of the future.” Plantersville already uses artificial intelligence to help students become better readers by listening to them read aloud.
“We’re moving into that realm to help children to better function and apply the skills they learn in the classroom in the real world,” Verner said.
Errin Gibson lives in Andrews but is an instructional assistant for the kindergarten class at Brown’s Ferry. Both her daughters – Sarah Grace and Regan Winter – are interested in the arts so she is considering having them join her in the new year. She thinks there will be bigger opportunities and more fun things to do for them.
“I’d be really excited because I like to dance,” said Sarah Grace, a fourth-grader.
Ebony Gourdine lives in Georgetown and her daughter attends Kensington Elementary School.
“She’s really smart so I want to push her as much as I can and this seems like a really good program,” Gourdine said.
Gourdine applied to the magnet program at Monday’s event because she feels like her daughter, who is 10, needs some separation from her friends.
“When you’re comfortable, you tend to follow in the path. I don’t want her following into the wrong crowd,” Gourdine said. “She can see her friends after school. She can see her friends in the summer.”
Monday’s event also gave the district a chance to unveil the new branding for the schools, which includes new logos. Carvers Bay High’s iconic bear got a makeover with input from students, staff and parents.
Price believes that more parents will choose to send their child to one of the magnet schools in the 2024-25 school year, once everyone sees how well the program is doing.
“Year one is not going to be perfect. This will be an ongoing improvement process. We’re going get better every day and every year,” Price said. “I was talking to someone from Carvers Bay Middle. We said if we’re able to put together a quality experience in year one, then the word of mouth will sell this.”
The application for the magnet school program is available on the district’s website. There are no academic or GPA requirements or tests to pass to be accepted. If more students apply for a school than there is room for, a lottery system will be used.