Hollinshead looks to Atlanta for school reform ideas

Hollinshead looks to Atlanta for school reform ideas
April 26 14:47 2019 Print This Article

Charleston County School Board member Kevin Hollinshead decided to look to school reform ideas in Atlanta public schools to help improve the chronically failing schools in his North Charleston district. The South Carolina Department of Education recently rated eight North Charleston schools among the bottom 10% in the state.

Hollinshead and other community leaders recently took a bus trip to visit three high-poverty Atlanta schools that are improving student achievement – B.E.S.T. Academy and Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy, both single gender high schools, and Hollis Innovation Academy, a K-8 school. B.E.S.T. and King boast graduation rates of 93% and 100%, respectively. Hollis uses the CREW instruction method, which focuses on teacher collaboration, mentoring, and a welcoming classroom environment.

The Atlanta trip was funded by Hollinshead’s non-profit, the Bridgeport Foundation. He said, “We carried a very unique and diverse group to Atlanta. We need to focus on practices that are working for children and adopt them (in Charleston County).” Retired school administrator Carol Tempel was encouraged by the improvements Hollis students were making in reading, science and social studies. The Atlanta schools were also able to provide medical, dental and mental health counseling services for the students through partnerships.

The North Charleston schools declared failing by the state education department have more than 90% of students performing below state SC Ready grade level standards. At Chicora Elementary, only 1.2% of 5th graders met grade level standards in math last year. Hollinshead is working with a team of volunteers who will offer a list of immediate solutions to improve student performance.