Friday, April 15, 2016

Update: Elementary 20

Despite steady rain and the natural disaster caused by flooding last fall, construction is moving along at a steady pace at the Elementary 20 site. A report submitted to the Richland Two School board at the April 12, 2016 meeting noted that the building pad was 100 percent complete, which meant that underground and foundations through the remainder of the building could continue.

To date, approximately 45 percent of the building slab has been poured with remaining slab pours tracking on schedule. Load bearing masonry is complete in the physical education area, 90 percent complete in the kitchen, and 70 percent complete in a special education classroom. Masonry will continue with completing the load bearing portion in these areas and then move throughout the remainder of the building. Primary steel has completed in Learning Hub 1 and began in the Media Center. Metal roof decking has been installed in the physical education area and has started in Learning Hub 1.

Crews have worked steadily to get the project back on schedule after weather delays in the fall. During and after the flooding in October, the erosion control structures performed as designed and kept all materials on site, while piping and containment structures held and controlled the water. Keeping in mind the sensitive site conditions, collaborative inspections have continued with Richland County and third party inspectors to ensure the work is in compliance with the plans, specifications and county standards. Foundation work will soon be completed in several areas where the pad has been brought to grade. Underground utilities are tracking along in conjunction with foundation progress. Walls are up completely erected in several areas and in progress in more.

The school, located between Trenholm Road Extension and O’Neil Court, is scheduled for completion in May 2017 and will receive its first students when school starts in August of that year. See more photos of construction in our Elementary 20 Flickr album.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Coming Tomorrow: A Day in the Life of Daniel Murphy, Polo Road Elementary School Special Education Teacher

Meet Daniel Murphy, award-winning special education teacher at Polo Road Elementary School. After student-teaching at Forest Lake Elementary School and witnessing the support Richland Two gives its special education teachers, Mr. Murphy decided he was here to stay.

During his second year of teaching, he was awarded the Council for Exceptional Children's Rookie Teacher of the Year. After Forest Lake, Mr. Murphy taught at Rice Creek Elementary School for a year and half and has been at Polo Road for seven years.

"I love my job, and the best part, I would, say is getting to directly impact not only my students' lives but the lives of their parents as well," he said.

We're following Mr. Murphy tomorrow. Follow @RichlandTwo on Twitter and Instagram and like us on Facebook for a peek into A Day in the Life of Mr. Murphy! ‪#‎ADITL‬

Friday, April 8, 2016

Guest Blogger: Patrick Kelly: The Value of Classroom Diversity

Originally posted on HOMEROOM
The Official Blog of the U.S. Department of Education

I am in my eleventh year teaching but often find my greatest educational epiphanies as a parent. One such moment occurred last spring when my daughter’s first grade class discussed de jure racial segregation of American society during the first half of the 20th century. When she came home, she shared what she had learned and asked this poignant and powerful question, “Daddy, does that mean I couldn’t have gone to school with my best friend?” At that moment, as she contextualized the reality of segregation in her head and heart, the power of classroom diversity became crystal clear.

However, the value of diversity is currently being unrealized at a rate unseen in the last 50 years. Abundant data points to resegregation of America’s schools, such as a 2012 report from The Civil Rights Project at UCLA that noted, “80% of Latino students and 74% of black students attend majority nonwhite schools.” As an educator, these statistics are alarming, since I’ve seen the value of a diverse classroom in three key ways.

First, as my daughter experienced, classroom diversity promotes student growth and reflection. In the most recent edition of Educational Leadership, Peter Levine noted that, “by talking and listening to people different from ourselves, we learn and enlarge our understanding.” This claim has proved true in my class numerous times, such as a recent discussion of an article on the demographic composition of Congress. The students’ diverse backgrounds and experiences clearly enhanced conversation and analysis of the role of gender, race and life experience in representation.

Second, diverse classrooms play an essential role in career preparation. Students are entering job markets with diminishing concern for community or national boundaries. Integrated classroom environments are important in helping students learn to collaborate and communicate with the different cultures and backgrounds found in the 21st century work environment.

Finally, diversity prepares students for citizenship. My collegiate alma mater’s motto is, “Emollit mores necsinit esse feros,” which means, “Learning humanizes character and does not permit it to be cruel.” In my classes, I have seen how diversity enhances this ‘humanizing’ effect of education as students learn to engage in civic discourse. My students routinely discuss politically charged issues ranging from wartime civil liberties to affirmative action, and diverse views enhance learning to defend and explain opinions in a civil fashion. In a recent op-ed, former Senate Majority Leaders Tom Daschle and Trent Lott stated democracy requires, “mindfulness and tolerance,” and integrated classrooms enhance the ability to learn these essential traits.

Of course the value of classroom diversity is not a new concept. Next week, my students will read Brown v. Board of Education, where the Supreme Court noted, “it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life,” without a quality education.

Both research and my experience show the link between quality and diversity in schools. Obviously, reversing racial and socioeconomic resegregation is a task without simple solutions. However, difficulty is not justification for failure to act, and that is why programs such as the Stronger Together Grants proposal in the President’s budget are essential steps forward in providing diverse classrooms.

It has been more than sixty years since the Court decreed separate educational environments to be “inherently unequal;” it remains for us to ensure all students are receiving the full promise of a quality education.

Patrick Kelly teaches at Blythewood High School and is a Teaching Ambassador Fellow at the U.S. Department of Education. You can follow him on Twitter at @plkelly27.

So much to see, so much to do! This weekend (April 8-10, 2016) in our community!

Visit the Richland Two Community Events Pinterest board for flyers and links to events this weekend! Have a safe and fun Spring Break!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Diversity Spotlight: Susan Boyle

Susan Boyle

Susan Boyle took the internet by storm in 2009 when she sang a rendition of Les Misérables’ “I Dreamed A Dream” on Britain’s Got Talent. After that performance, Boyle became a singing sensation, selling more than 14 million records worldwide.

Boyle is now using her success to speak out about her diagnosis of Asperger syndrome, a form of autism. Boyle was recently diagnosed in 2012.

“Asperger’s doesn’t define me. It’s a condition that I have to live with and work through, but I feel more relaxed about myself,” she said in the interview. “People will have a greater understanding of who I am and why I do the things I do.”

More than 3.5 million Americans live with an autism spectrum disorder. April is National Autism Awareness Month, which is an opportunity to promote autism awareness, autism acceptance and to draw attention to the tens of thousands facing an autism diagnosis each year.