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College of Education Shares in Riley Award of Excellence with Chester School
The award, which highlights innovative educational initiatives throughout the state, was presented to Chester Park Elementary School of Inquiry for its project-based learning initiative.
Despite being a Title I school, the Chester school’s first and second grade classrooms saw significant growth in student learning averaging 84 percent.
ROCK HILL, S.C.— Winthrop University’s successful partnership with a Chester County school was recognized recently with the
2013 Dick and Tunky Riley WhatWorksSC
Award for Excellence
The award, which highlights innovative educational initiatives throughout the state, was presented to
Chester Park Elementary School of Inquiry
for its project-based learning initiative. It was presented during the
WhatWorksSC awards luncheon
held Oct. 16 in Columbia in conjunction with the
South Carolina Future Minds’ annual Public Education Partners meeting
The Chester school initiative was selected from among two other finalists which serve students statewide:
Parents as Teachers SC
South Carolina First Steps
Teacher Cadet Program
Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention and Advancement
(CERRA), which is housed at Winthrop.
The Chester school, which is a professional development school in partnership with Winthrop, is a
Title I school
where 90 percent of the 435 students receive free or reduced lunch. Despite that, in the first year of its project-based learning initiative, the school’s first and second grade classrooms saw significant growth in student learning averaging 84 percent.
, associate professor in Winthrop's
Department of Counseling, Leadership and Educational Studies
, said she has worked with Chester teachers over the past four years to develop a school culture in which students learn content by working in collaborative teams to solve real-world problems.
"I work collaboratively with the teachers to develop and implement at least one project-based learning unit each semester," she said. "Each teacher designs a
that he or she uses to teach the students how to conduct research online, compile information, work in collaborative teams and think critically. Students then develop presentations that they and teachers present at our annual Friends and Family Math and Science Fair."
For example, kindergarten teachers worked with students to develop a landscaping plan for the new
Chester District Education office
. As teachers taught students learned new math, science, and reading content within the context of how they would solve this particular problem.
"These types of projects show children how they might one day use the academic skills they are acquiring to become, in this case, a landscaper or horticulturist,"
added. "This approach is very different from learning the content for the sole purpose of doing well on a test. It teaches them how to use what they are learning to become productive citizens."
Candidates for the award were selected from more than 80 entries in the
Riley Institute’s WhatWorksSC clearinghouse
showcases initiatives that explore and exemplify key strategies for improving South Carolina’s public schools.
The award was presented in conjunction with the
South Carolina Chamber of Commerce
, and was sponsored by
Childs and Halligan, P.A.
South Carolina Education Oversight Committee
South Carolina School Boards Association
South Carolina State Board of Education
, and the
South Carolina Association of School Administrators
For more information about the Chester school initiative, contact
Richard W. Riley College of Education
at 803/323-2151 or e-mail her at
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