Monday, January 29, 2007

Swamp Fox Question of the Week

This week's question announced on the SC Business Review radio program is, "What successful grass roots programs are there across South Carolina to improve K-12 public education?"

We'll report a summary of your comments on the SC Business Review on Monday, February 5th.


Lisa Stevens said...


I am the chairman of the board of Langston Charter Middle School here in Greenville. We are the only public middle school in Greenville to met AYP this year. All our classes are taught single gender, students wear uniforms and instead of related arts we teach leadership and require community service. You might say we are one of Greenville's best kept secrets in education. And there is a reason for that; we don't have room for more than the 120 students we currently serve.

We are in the middle of the enrollment process for next year and so far about 100 students have applied for the 40 spots we know we will have open.

We are aggressively searching for a new location so we can have room for 200 students, but with a per pupil allotment of $4,200, for all expenses, our choices are slim to none.

In your search for innovated, grass-root, quality education I would like to invite you to come to Langston and see first hand what a group of parents and dedicated teachers have accomplished in just 18 months.

I believe what we are doing, and how we are doing, could serve as a model for any public school. Part of our vision statement is to take what we have learned and share it freely with others who wish to improve education.

We are located at 288 Rocky Creek Road, just off Woodruff Road, behind Traviana's.

We have a website,

Please contact me and I would be happy to show you what works.

Thank you,
Lisa Stevens

Martha Petoskey McPherson said...


I am Project Director of the Spartanburg Charter School Planning Committee in Spartanburg SC. We are a grassroots group that has made application to the SC DOE Safe Schools and Drug Free Communities Public Charter Schools Grants program, and we will know by this Friday, Feb 1, regarding the awarding of funds. In either case, we will make application to the Department of Education in May 2007 for a charter school to open in August 2008.

In 2006, 62% of schools in Spartanburg District 7 received ratings of "Below Average" or "Unsatisfactory" on EOC report cards. There are wide discrepancies across the district, with only one low poverty, low minority school, Pine Street Elementary, consistently rating Excellent.

The SCS mission is to provide equal access to high quality education--independent of socio-economic status, zip code and so forth.

The Spartanburg Charter School methods are strongly founded in educational research and will include:
- single-gender classes
- small school size
- small class sizes
- school uniforms
- daily PE instruction
- daily instruction in socialization skills
- individualized instruction for advanced as well as for remedial students
- inquiry-based learning

We hope that District 7 will approve our charter, and we have invited them to collaborate with our grassroots effort, as yet to no avail.

We believe that charter schools are a wonderful way to meet the needs of students, as charter schools introduce the notions of competition and real accountability into the current system.

Like Ms. Stevens and the Langston Charter Middle School, we believe in sharing our information so that others can implement what they believe would be best for their children, students, and community members. You can obtain copies of our grant application and so forth at:

Thanks for covering this important issue.

Martha Petoskey McPherson

Travis Seward said...


It has been a while since our paths have crossed – hope all is well! I look forward to your spot on the radio every week.

Your discussion this morning about education and the community is why I am writing. Since we have last talked, I have become heavily involved with the Warehouse Theatre. We have a program called This Wooden O.

For 5 years, we have taken actor/teachers into classrooms of Greenville County Schools. While there we use creative and engaging techniques to teach Shakespeare to English and Drama classes. Our program is unique because it meets state curriculum standards and contains quality class room instruction. We are not simply a performance with a Q & A period. We meet students in the school environment and often times find that underserved communities and learning challenged students respond most positively to our program.

This Wooden O has been recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts for its excellence. We are one of 36 in the US that has received a $25K matching grant (Shakespeare for a New Generation) to help fund this initiative. Matching donations still needed. In addition to private individuals, the generous funding of companies like Verizon Wireless and BMW, we have been able to supply this free to Greenville County Schools and offer largely reduced prices to our touring performances in surrounding communities.

It is extremely positive to be influencing the next generation and to be able to use the arts to do so. This is a perfect example of how initiatives such as this can benefit our society. I have attached a 2 page sheet that explains the program in greater detail. I would love to talk to you further, to answer any questions or hear your suggestions.


J. Travis Seward
VP & Publisher, 10Best Travel Guides

Parentalcation said...

Lanston Charter Middle School has average absolute scores compared to their demographic counterparts.

According to the school report card,they are almost 100% white and full pay meals socioeconomic status. I would guess its a school more about white flight than school reform.

Their school report card is here.

Steve O said...

One college program that directly assists K-12 students pre-dates the Furman initiative.

Presbyterian College partnered in 1995 with the Laurens County school districts, organizations, and the community at-large to change the lives of deserving students through the CHAMPS program.

The acronym stands for "Communities Helping, Assisting, and Motivating Promising Students" and it has lived up to its name as students who entered the mentoring program in junior high school have since overcome social and economic challenges to enroll in college. Eight former CHAMPS students are now enrolled at PC and are giving back to the program as mentors.

The program celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2005 under the direction of its original leader, Dr. Jerman Disasa, who has shared the successful CHAMPS model nationally. Due to the influence of CHAMPS, grades are improved, students are more motivated, parents are increasingly engaged in the education of their children, and genuine partnerships have been built among the supporting entities. An extension of the program in Columbia, CHAMPS-Eastminster, was started in 2000 in Richland County.

CHAMPS students experience what it is like to live and study on a college campus. They hone their classroom skills under public school and college teachers and interact with each other and mentors. More importantly, they learn that their own commitment and hard work can lead to a bright future.

That's the difference a caring community can make in education.

Check out the Presbyterian College web site ( for more information.

Jim Kappler said...

Mr. Warner,

Regarding your SC Business Review question of the week "What successful grass roots programs are there across South Carolina to improve K-12 public education?", I have attached an education reform proposal of mine that is currently under consideration by the SC Senate Education Committee. (See
attached e-mails from Senator Kevin Bryant and Senator Rober Hayes staffer.)

At the high school level, what is absent is discussion about how to effectively educate,and more specifically, how to motivate teenagers. It is primarily teenagers that drop out of school, start using illegal drugs, and start making babies out of wedlock.

For a future "Question of the Week" you might consider asking the following:

How do you motivate teenage school dropouts, instant gratification seekers who are not long term planners, to not drop out and to commit four year of their lives to accomplish the long term goal of completing high school?

It was this very question that I considered when I wrote my education reform proposal that includes the following ideas for:

* Redefining the "school year" to transition away from the current, 180 school day calendar, to a school year based upon the actual content that students must learn.

* Eliminating partial school days, snow days, and school days after final grades are assigned with a proportional reduction in school operating expenses. The cost saving might be applied to other school programs.

*Establishing a scholarship "wage" that students start earning, "accruing" ,and "vesting" their Freshman year in high school, thereby providing the appropriately frequent and short term incentive for teenagers to complete four years of high school, who would otherwise drop out.

*Reducing the South Carolina high school dropout rate by 25% to 50%.

*Portable job training fund that high school graduates can carry into a new job for on-the-job training, offering employers a new resource for employee training.

As you read the document, please consider the following question with regards to the "scholarship wage": When does ever money lessen motivation in teenagers?

I had sent these ideas to numerous people. Kevin Bryant just happened to be the politician to pick them up and act upon them.

Thank you.