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American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF) Study Tour

South Carolina’s i3 New Tech schools received some national attention when the American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF) hosted a study tour funded by the Hewlett Foundation. State school leaders from around the country convened in North Charleston February 1-3, 2017 to focus on advancing equity through deeper learning in rural schools.

On day one, Chris Shearer from the Hewlett Foundation, Lydia Dobyns and Kristin Cuilla from the New Tech Network, and Dr. Latoya Dixon and Lauren McCauley of the South Carolina Department of Education set the stage with discussions of deeper learning on both the national and state levels and an overview of the work of the New Tech Network.

Day two included a trip to Summerton for a comprehensive visit to Scott’s Branch High School. Part of the hour-long bus ride included an overview by Alan Richard of the Rural School and Community Trust of some of Clarendon County’s history as it pertained to Briggs vs. Elliott, the original of five cases that combined to become Brown vs. Board of Education. Student project presentations, classroom tours, teacher and student panels, project creation process, and leadership perspectives were all informative and inspiring. After returning to North Charleston, a panel including Dr. Cuilla, Dr. Peggy Torrey of TransformSC, and Dr. Don Gordon of the Riley Institute at Furman University was moderated by Mr. Richard. Panelists discussed their relationships with the two schools, the history of the partnerships, and strategies for encouraging collaboration between secondary education, postsecondary education, and business in rural communities.

Cougar New Tech at Colleton County High School hosted the group on day three, with an agenda similar to the day at Scott’s Branch, followed by a final reflection/debrief by study tour participants. The tour was an excellent mix of what is possible: a look into the nuts and bolts of what it takes to implement innovation in rural school settings while still displaying palpable positive results across diverse populations. We are proud of our schools and all they have accomplished in preparing kids for college and career!

AYPF Forum for Thought: Partnerships Promoting School Transformation in South Carolina

See more details at AYPF’s website.