Aiken County Public Schools launched a 10-week evening developmental program in January to help pre-kindergarten students prepare for school.

Data gathered following the program’s completion and feedback from parents showed that students who participated in the program experienced growth in a number of measurable skill areas, according to a news release from the district.

“We saw encouraging growth with the students and the feedback we received from our parents and teachers really confirmed the data we collected measuring student skills before and after the program. We are thrilled these students are more prepared than ever for school in August,” said Jennifer Stark, Early Learning Programs coordinator for Aiken County Public Schools.

The program was held on Tuesday and Thursday evenings between January 29 and April 4. Students were instructed using the district’s current 4k curriculum. They also were provided with a snack and an evening meal. District pre-kindergarten teachers led classroom instruction, and early childhood college graduates served as teaching assistants.

The program began at 4:15 p.m. each scheduled day and was held at Millbrook Elementary School, Mossy Creek Elementary School, Gloverville Elementary School, Jefferson Elementary School, Busbee Elementary School, Ridge Spring-Monetta Elementary School, Greendale Elementary School and Redcliffe Elementary School.

The program served about 100 total students, with an average of 60 students per week. 

Before the program started, and again following the completion of the program, students were assessed in a number of key skill areas, such as recognizing upper and lowercase letters and identifying shapes and colors. The results of the post-program were quite positive, according to the release.

At Millbrook Elementary, an average of three students out of an average weekly participation of 14 did not recognize uppercase letters prior to the start of the program. Following the program’s completion, all 14 weekly participating students recognized upper case letters.

At Gloverville Elementary, only two students out of an average of nine weekly participants could trace their names at the start of the program. All nine weekly participating students were able to trace their names at the conclusion of the program.  

Parents were also provided with a district survey in which they provided feedback and gauged for themselves how their students had improved and progressed during the evening program.

Of parents who submitted a survey response, nearly half of the 56 participating families, 88 of respondents agreed or strongly agreed their child is better prepared for kindergarten as a result of participating in the evening program, according to the release.

The district plans to continue the program during the 2019-20 school year, with a goal of increasing the overall number of students served as well as the average number of students served at each school location.

For more information, call Jennifer Stark, Early Learning Programs coordinator for Aiken County Public Schools, at 803-663-4204.

School Board recognizes Leadership Academy graduates

The Aiken County Board of Education recently recognized graduates of the Aiken County Public School District's latest Leadership Academy cohorts.

“We want to actively engage our employees in the many positive aspects of leadership development so they may better serve others and build the collective leadership capacity of our organization,” Aiken County Superintendent Dr. Sean Alford, who served as the instructor for one of the two most recent Leadership Academy cohorts, said. “We also encourage our Leadership Academy graduates to apply the skills they learn in support of their local communities.”

The Leadership Academy curriculum is offered to employees as a deliberate effort to provide access to enhanced training opportunities, according to a news release from the district. Members of the most recent class cohorts included school administrators and teacher leaders.

Graduating members of the first cohort for the 2017-18 school year are as follows: Kimmerie Allen (Belvedere Elementary, Assistant Principal); Denise Broome (Human Resources, Classified Staffing Coordinator); Carrie Cooper (Hammond Hill Elementary, Teacher Leader); James Dziczkowski (Midland Valley High, Teacher Leader); Dustin Fowler (Midland Valley High, Teacher Leader); Anna Beth Harbeson (East Aiken School of the Arts, Assistant Principal); Tiffany Hall (Jackson Middle, Assistant Principal); Cynthia Hewitt (Aiken Elementary, Principal); Charity Holdman (Millbrook Elementary, Teacher Leader); John Hostetler (Midland Valley High, Teacher Leader); Roxanne Hyer (Gloverville Elementary, Principal); Clyde Jobes (Paul Knox Middle, Assistant Principal); Alecia Kinard (Chukker Creek Elementary, Teacher Leader); Christine Liner (Paul Knox Middle, Teacher Leader); Elizabeth McClearen (District Office, Human Resources); Paige McLemore (Jefferson Elementary, Reading Coach); Patrick Newsome (Warrenville Elementary, Assistant Principal); Danille Quattlebaum (Jackson Middle School, Teacher Leader); Kristin Risher (North Augusta High School, Assistant Principal); Dede Scott (Clearwater Elementary, Assistant Principal); Elizabeth Supan (Federal Programs, ESOL); LaToya Wise (Mossy Creek Elementary, Teacher Leader); and Tara Sanders-Davis (Corbett Middle School, Teacher Leader).

Graduating members of the second cohort for the 2017-18 school year are as follows:

Beth Barlett (Aiken Elementary, Teacher Leader); Megan Bush (Hammond Hill Elementary, Teacher Leader); Latonia Evans (Leavelle McCampbell Middle, Assistant Principal); Sylvia Gay (North Augusta Middle, Assistant Principal); Lindsey Hager (North Augusta Elementary, Assistant Principal); Timothy Hamilton (Redcliffe Elementary, Teacher Leader); Jeffrey Harting (Kennedy Middle, Assistant Principal); Sharon Holloway (Jackson STEM Middle, Teacher Leader); Tabatha Hughes (Millbrook Elementary, Teacher Leader); Dana Jenkins (Midland Valley High, Teacher Leader); Steven Kolodizieizyck (Leavelle McCampbell, Assistant Principal); Nathan Lobaugh (Oakwood-Windsor Elementary, Assistant Principal); Cristine Raines (Chukker Creek Elementary, Teacher Leader); Casey Rogers (Langley-Bath-Clearwater Middle, Assistant Principal); John Ross (Jefferson Elementary, Teacher Leader); Clinton Saunders (Corbett Middle, Assistant Principal); Charidy Simon (Jefferson Elementary, Assistant Principal); Wilton Stone, Jr. (Kennedy Middle, Teacher Leader); CaraLynn Williams (Greendale Elementary), Teacher Leader); and Mark Wright (Ridge Spring-Monetta Middle, Teacher Leader).

Larry Wood covers education for the Aiken Standard.