Grantee Corner  |  Richland School District Two

Richland School District Two, in South Carolina’s capital city of Columbia, is the third fastest growing school district in the state. Richland Two constantly strives to design the best learning and professional development opportunities for 27,000 plus students and 3,400 employees. The district has 678 National Board Certified teachers, the most in South Carolina, and ranks in the top 20 in the nation. Families relocate to Richland Two because of its high academic standards, selection of magnet programs, and strong community partnerships.

Three new magnet schools have been created with Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP) grant funding, which supports a project called Full STEAM Ahead. An elementary, middle, and high school create a learning pathway that includes science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics (STEAM) in the curriculum. These schools use project-based learning to give students hands-on experiences and help them develop 21st century skills that will support their continued success.

Killian Elementary STEAM Leaders Academy serves 645 students in grades K-5. The school provides a challenging learning environment while it supports students to develop their critical and creative thinking skills. Students use a state-of-the-art broadcast studio that provides hands-on “Today Show” production opportunities. The LEGO Robotics Lab continues to be a favorite learning area for students and teachers alike. A Drums 101 and Drumline Performance Team, a graphic arts design studio, a keyboarding studio, and a string ensemble help to make Killian STEAM Leaders Academy a highly popular magnet school.

Longleaf Engineering & Arts Program (L.E.A.P.) Middle School serves 665 students in grades 6-8. Science labs, emerging technology, expanded arts options, collaborations across academic subjects, and an engineering mind-set to problem solving help these students LEAP into the future. Students may select from visual arts, band, orchestra, chorus, musical keyboarding, graphic arts, dance, and drama courses. A variety of cultural experiences attract students who like to express themselves artistically or wish to learn to do so. Overall, LEAP prepares tomorrow’s leaders to solve social challenges and to create positive solutions to increase global interdependence.

Westwood High School continues the STEAM pathway with its Institute of Research, Engagement, and Design (iRED). The school serves 1,338 students in grades 9-12. The faculty and students hold five core values that affect all aspects of teaching and learning: respect, responsibility, integrity, community, and empathy. Students use the latest scientific probeware to conduct inquiries into alternative energy, environmental technology, and robotics. iRED provides many opportunities for students to engage in academic research through a full computer lab and media library. The Makerspace is always buzzing with innovative student designs. The active performing arts scene at Westwood includes orchestra and marching bands, plus dance and choral music classes. As the newest high school in the district, Westwood has worked to build strong partnerships with surrounding businesses so it can provide real-world experiences for students.

The Full STEAM Ahead project aims to promote diversity; increase academic achievement; develop connections between students, parents, and teachers, and their school, community, and global environments; and build staff and district capacity.

Dr. Arlene Bakutes holds a Ph.D. in Curriculum & Instruction, including a specialization in rhetoric. She has more than 24 years of experience as an English/ELA teacher, instructional coach, postsecondary professor, and grants coordinator. With teaching experience in Tennessee, Louisiana, New York, Indiana, and South Carolina, Dr. Bakutes recognizes the critical importance of fully supporting the teachers and administrators who implement the Full STEAM Ahead project.

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