Aiken High School celebrated an outstanding achievement and significant new academic opportunity for students in 2017 when the school became the first Cambridge International School in South Carolina.
A similarly rewarding academic opportunity will ready middle school students feeding into Aiken High as Schofield Middle School will become a Cambridge International Lower Secondary School in the fall, also marking a first for the state.
One of the key goals of Cambridge at the middle school level is to help students develop and improve confidence, responsibility, reflection, innovation and engagement. The internationally-recognized program and curriculum are designed to offer a more comprehensive understanding of the world for students, providing them with an expanded base of knowledge attractive to job creators.
“The Cambridge Lower Secondary Program provides middle school students with foundational skills that will support a smooth progression to Cambridge courses at Aiken High,” stated Phyllis Gamble, Aiken County Public Schools’ Executive Director of Middle Schools. “Schofield’s coursework will be infused with Cambridge’s learner and teacher attributes, providing opportunities for students to develop skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration, a solid framework for lifetime success.”
Denise McCray, current principal of Schofield Middle School, and Scott Floyd, current principal of Aiken Middle, are part of the team working to implement the Cambridge Lower Secondary Program in Aiken County and repurpose Aiken Middle to Aiken Intermediate School, a school for sixth-grade students focused on the whole child concept. McCray, who has vast experience with both elementary and middle school students, will be the first principal of Aiken Intermediate School when the school opens in fall 2019. Floyd, whose heart and certification lies with secondary learners, will transition to Schofield Middle for the 2019-2020 school year and serve as principal.
The transition at Schofield Middle School to a Cambridge International Lower Secondary School will be deliberate and intentional.
“We will systematically evolve into a Cambridge School,” Floyd says. “I am most excited about the intentional practice of reflection. Cambridge learners and teachers strive to truly understand themselves as students and teachers. By taking the time to reflect upon best teaching and learning practices, we will grow as individuals as well as educators.”
Opportunities for high-quality professional learning for Schofield Middle School teachers are an added bonus of Cambridge implementation.
“Our teachers are especially excited about the opportunity to network with other teachers across the country through Cambridge professional learning,” McCray added.
Implementation of the Cambridge Upper Secondary Program and Advanced Secondary Program at Aiken High School has changed the way students interact with information and learn.
“The response to the Cambridge Program here at Aiken High from parents, students, teachers, and community members has been overwhelmingly positive,” stated Aiken High School Assistant Principal Alisa Hamrick. “Rather than simply memorizing information, our students are challenged to analyze information and express themselves both verbally and in writing in all Cambridge courses. One student told me, ‘I like my Cambridge classes. They are the same, but they are also different. You write a lot more and you really have to think. You have to think hard.’”
“Cambridge students may choose advanced level courses that allow them to earn college credit for qualifying scores on the Cambridge exams,” Hamrick commented. “A student passing enough of these courses can earn a prestigious international diploma in addition to the traditional high school diploma. Gifted students may also opt to complete self-study when a desired course is not offered in the classroom at Aiken High. The possibilities are endless.”
For Floyd, looking at the Cambridge program in its entirety brings an exciting benefit of building future-ready citizens and eager lifelong learners.
“The Cambridge Learner Attributes – Confident, Responsible, Reflective, Innovative, and Engaged – are key traits all Schofield Middle School students will need to develop to be successful students,” Floyd stated. “The value of these attributes, however, does not stop at the dismissal bell. They are also the keys to success in so many other realms of life beyond education.”
For information on submitting a transfer application to an Aiken County Public Schools’ Cambridge Program, visit acpsd.net. On the navigation bar hover over “I AM …” and then select “A Parent/Guardian”. Scroll down and select “School Choice” on the left hand side of the page. District schools can also provide parents with this information.