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SCASA STAFF Molly Spearman Executive Director

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Danita McDaniel Administrative Assistant

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Deborah Shepard Membership Coordinator Meeting Registrar

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Hannah Hopkins Director of Meeting Planning and Training

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Jay Welch Director of Finance and Technology

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Beth Phibbs Director of Governmental Affairs Julia Boyd Director of Member Services

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Ronny Townsend Director of Business Community Partnerships Sandy Burton Administrative Assistant to the Executive Director

SCASA BOARD

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Mr. John E. Tindal President

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Dr. Joanne Avery President-Elect

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Dr. Stephen W. Hefner Past President Dr. James O. Ray Sr. Dr. Everette M. Dean Jr. Mr. Edward R. Dean Mr. Louis E. Lavely Jr. Mr. Rodney Graves Ms. Marisa P. Vickers Mrs. Nancy J. Gregory Dr. John M. Gardner Mr. Jerome A. Hudson Dr. Marian Anne Crum-Mack Ms. Sandy Andrews Mrs. Nancy O. Verburg Mr. Mike Mahaffey Mr. Randall Vaughn Mrs. Marelyn H. Murdaugh Mrs. Teresa Owen Hinnant Mrs. Nancy C. Thompson Dr. Mark Mitchell Mr. Chris Christiansen Ms. Molly M. Spearman

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FEATURES

When Money Talks - District Leadership During Financially Turbulent Times By: Dr. Secaida D. Howell Why Benefits Communication Pays Off By: Mike Linebaughl “Under The Radar”: The Child Abuse Challenge For Your School By: Tom McDaniel Creating and Sustaining a Freshman Academy By: C. Mason Gary, Ph.D.

The Importance of Homeless Education By: Jayme Wilson The Value of Financial Education Teaching Financial Literacy Together By: Suzette N. Morganelli Keeping It Real By: Dr. Jacqueline Mayo “Walk One World”: Developing Healthy Habits While Incorporating Education, Community and Mentoring Into One Program By: Janice M. Keller Economics is Everywhere…Reading, Math, Science, Social Studies… Art! By: Michele Reap The Effectiveness of Voyager Reading Literacy Program on Reading Achievement By: Mattie Jackson Burroughs, Ph.D & Necati Engec, Ph.D Teachers and Students, Like Crayons, Come in All Colors Strategies for Diversifying the Teaching Force Dr. Sonia Cunningham Leverette Berkeley County Jump Starts Its Junior Scholars By: Merrie S. Fisher The Foundation of Student Success: Building Positive Relationships with Students By: Kimberly Scott Does That Shirt Fade When You Wash It? By: Merry L. Cox Disciplining Students for The Palmetto Administrator is published annually by the South Carolina Association of School Administrators, 121 Westpark Off-Campus Cyber Speech: Blvd., Columbia, SC 29210, (803) 798-8380 A First Amendment Review http://www.scasa.org. By: Jesulon S. R. Gibbs, J.D., Ph.D. Send address changes to Sandy@scasa.org. Advertising information and contributors’ information are available online.

DEPARTMENTS 7

A Message From The Executive Director By Molly Spearman

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2009 Photo Contest

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SCASA BUSINESS AFFILIATES

Publication Policy: Articles should be written in an informal, conversational style, where treatment of the topic is interesting, insightful and based on the writer’s experience. The editor encourages the use of charts, photos and other artwork. To be considered for publication, articles should be submitted electronically, preferably in MSWord, using one-inch margins. The cover page should show the author’s name, position and complete contact information. The article’s working title and a one or two sentence summary should appear on the title page. Submit article proposals or completed articles for consideration to the Managing Editor, Marjorie Riddle, marjorie@scasa,org. Articles submitted to Palmetto Administrator may be edited for style, content, and space before publication. Articles may not be reproduced without consent of the publisher.


When Money Talks District Leadership During Financially Turbulent Times By: Dr. Secaida D. Howell

As a child growing up, my mother would often preach, “When money talks, all else walks.” In other words, regardless of one’s personal values and convictions, it’s no secret that it takes money to make things happen. We were taught at an early age in our Sunday school classes that the love of money is the root of all evil.” Now, in today’s modern-day depression, we, as educators, can certainly chime in with one united voice and the same rhythmic cadence and boldly say, “the lack of money is a root as well.” It is a sad scene of affairs when we observe what is happening economically on the national and local levels, particularly as it relates to how we educate our young people. Regardless of the walk of life from which you come, those of us with the dimmest and darkest vision can see and understand that money speaks in a loud volume when it is present. When it is absent the silence

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can be deafening. What is even further disturbing is that the education of the state’s young people is largely predicated upon the ZIP (Zone Improvement Plan) code of the student – that system of postal codes used by the United States Postal Service for the quick and efficient travel and delivery of mail. A child doesn’t choose his or her address. It is bestowed upon them without their input or consent. The same child has no decision-making authority regarding industry in his community or the size of the tax base his county has. It is heartbreaking when you ask a colleague how much does it cost to build a school today, and he replies by saying, “it depends on which district the school will be built in.” It’s even sadder when the colleague further responds by saying, “in most cases, a school building in one district may very well come with more bells and whistles than the same school in another district. WHY DO WE ALLOW THIS TO HAPPEN?


In little rural Bamberg School District Two, Denmark, SC, we certainly have claim to the old adage, “The Worst of Times and the Best of Times.” This is at least, from a financial perspective. In 2006, the district operated (for lack of a better word) with a $162,000.00 deficit. Needless to say, our operations were conducted on “broken pieces.” By 2008, we were able to wipe away that deficit and accumulate approximately $1,135,000.00 in fund

balance. While this may be a small amount to some, for us, it relieves lots of tension. We are no longer on pins and needles when the bimonthly pay cycle comes around, and we are able to make our accounts payable obligations within a reasonable period of time. Bamberg School District Two, with its less than 1,000 students and approximately 180 staff members, is like many other districts which have struggled because of lack of funding and is a part of the State Equity Lawsuit (Abbeville) of 1993 filed against the

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state for increased financial support. The 2005 documentary “Corridor of Shame,” speaks volumes of the challenges faced in funding a proper education in a large number of South Carolina rural school districts. Bamberg Two, while not proud to be a part of this documented struggle to adequately educate its students, is now poised to help

support and sustain itself a little better as it relates to funding because of the growth in its fund balance. While our district is faced with similar heartaches as other districts around the state, we are determined to continue to educate all of our children. And, further, at this time, the administration has no plans to recommend staff furloughs, layoffs, or reductions in force. We don’t consider ourselves just another district along the “Corridor of Shame,” but a bright star in the “Hallway of Hope.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. Secaida D. Howell Denmark, South Carolina 29042 803-7793-3346 Superintendent, Bamberg School District Two, Denmark, SC Dr. Howell has been an elementary music teacher, middle and high school band director, middle school English teacher, elementary assistant principal, elementary principal and assistant superintendent for instruction.

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A MESSAGE FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR By Molly Spearman

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ith the current economic instability, administrators are being challenged to provide quality programs for students with less funding. Somehow – some way, educators find the way to make positive learning environments for students no matter what the obstacle may be. For that, we are very grateful; however, we need to make certain that our parents, neighbors, business leaders, and policy makers understand that there are fundamental problems with our education funding formulas in South Carolina and it is time for those to be remedied. For the past two years, many SCASA members have worked closely with State Superintendent Jim Rex and other South Carolina leaders to focus on the need for our state to employ a new funding model for education. Our current funding program is over forty years old and has been tinkered with for decades. In

addition, our overall tax structure for South Carolina is in dire need of a complete overhaul. The many voices of SCASA need to resonate together toward our commitment of “a high quality education for all South Carolinians”. As you continue to meet the challenges in your community schools, please share the good work that you are doing and the reality that our state leaders must focus on the funding structures for our state. When the economy bounces back, then we will be ready to move forward with no obstacles in the way! We are so fortunate in South Carolina to have outstanding educators who are willing to share their expertise with others. This issue of Palmetto Administrator is filled with articles detailing experiences of our administrators, lessons learned, and ideas that may be used to improve student achievement. Enjoy reading and thanks again for all you do for the students and families of South Carolina! Molly Spearman

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Why Benefits Communication Pays Off By: Mike Linebaugh

Crunch. Cut. Catastrophe. Call it what you will, the state’s budget woes dominate the news headlines these days. And no one is feeling the pinch more than our education system. At the same time school funding is being reduced, health insurance premiums are still on the rise. That means most school districts are forced to deal with issues ranging from higher deductibles and co-pays to elimination of some benefits altogether. And they are carrying this additional administrative load with fewer human resources. Teachers and other school district employees are burdened with not only increased financial exposure but also greater responsibility for benefits decisionmaking. The result can be confusion, lower morale, higher turnover, poor participation and, perhaps worst of all, wasted dollars on benefits employees neither understand nor appreciate. Yet there is something you can do to strengthen the value of your benefits programs and ensure the best use of increasingly precious resources: focus on benefits communication and education. Benefits communication and education play a critical role in helping school districts maximize their benefits package as a competitive advantage to retain and attract the best talent. “Strong communication may be the single most important step an employer can take in a benefits program,” according to Tom Gilligan, senior vice president of marketing and branding at Colonial Life, which recently released a white paper on benefits communication and education. “Communication outweighs even the richness of the benefits package when it comes to how much employees value their benefits program.” Perception is Reality Gilligan’s last comment refers to a Watson Wyatt Worldwide study that showed employees gave higher marks to employers who provided fewer benefits but explained them well than to employers who provided a richer array of benefits employees did not understand.1 And it’s no surprise: According to the Society for Human Resource Management’s Job Satisfaction Survey, benefits are the second-most important job satisfaction factor for employees, after job security.2 When you’re competing with other school districts for top talent, the perception of your benefits program can be very important. Just like in the business world, it’s not uncommon for a great teacher to be wooed away by another school district or even a 8

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job outside of education for a relatively small increase in pay. The sad part is moves like that can be based more on perception than reality. If your employees don’t understand their benefits, they can’t appreciate them, so their perception of what you offer may be flawed. Even Educators Need Help with Employee Education The need for better benefits communication is no secret to human resources executives. A survey of attendees at last year’s Society for Human Resource Management’s national conference showed 90 percent of employers agree it’s important to their business that employees understand and appreciate their benefits — yet only 21 percent think their employees actually have a good understanding of them. And nearly 5 percent think their employees know nothing at all about their benefits!3 You’d likely get similar results in a survey of school administrators — or their employees. Many employees will be the first to admit they don’t understand their benefits. A Harris Interactive survey done on behalf of Colonial Life showed more than half don’t have a clear understanding of what their health insurance covers for cancer-related treatment, for example.4 Even when employees think they do know a lot about their benefits and insurance needs, they’re often off base. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners recently gave 1,000 adults a 10-question quiz on their knowledge of insurance needs. Before taking the quiz, nearly 60 percent said they felt “very confident” when making insurance decisions. Yet most of them flunked the test, correctly answering only four of 10 questions. 5 The basic lack of benefits knowledge and understanding is compounded by the financially enforced changes to benefits programs today. Changes of any type to an employee’s benefits plan — whether it’s increased premiums, higher deductibles, a shift to employee-paid voluntary benefits, or even just more options


— can cause confusion and concern for employees. “You’re taking something employees aren’t that comfortable with or knowledgeable about in the first place, and making it different, so they have even more to understand and make decisions about,” Gilligan points out. Benefits Communication That Works at Work Most employers have observed this disconnect and want help. In one employer survey, 94 percent of respondents said they’re interested in gaining access to resources to help educate employees about benefits.6 Keys to an effective benefits communication program include: • Interactivity. As benefits decision-making continues to shift more toward employees, workers are increasingly eager for information and tools. Benefits communication and education involves more than developing a message and delivering it. It’s about creating participation — an integral part of any highly successful communication program. Using tools such as the web-based Colonial Life BenCommunicator helps encourage employee engagement. • One-to-One Support. South Carolina has a great self-enrollment tool, but what’s missing is education. Something as complex as insurance can’t be effectively communicated relying totally on technology and self-education. One-to-one interactions that personalize the benefits decision-making experience are most effective. For example, conducting an individual needs analysis or talking through the features and costs of a specific policy helps ensure employees have a clear understanding. This type of one-to-one communication addresses the soft needs — helping employees understand all the terminology and choices while giving them confidence they’re making good decisions for their families. • Convenience. Information must be available to employees when and where it’s convenient for them. This is another reason one-to-one meetings at the workplace are so effective. Colonial Life’s benefits counselors can meet with your employees during their planning periods, on their breaks, at lunch, before or after school, or any time that meets your needs. • Multiple touch points. No one communication method by itself can be completely effective. We can help you take advantage of many methods, including one-to-one sessions, group meetings, online information and printed materials. And as younger generations permeate your teacher pool, keep in mind this group’s preferences for how it wants to get information. The message might not need to change, but the delivery mechanism does. Adaptability is very important moving forward. Effective Education at No Cost Implementing a comprehensive benefits communication strategy doesn’t have to involve additional expense or administration for the district. Colonial Life offers this service, along with turnkey

enrollment, at no charge, in exchange for the opportunity to offer our voluntary benefits to your employees. In fact, we’ve been the State of South Carolina’s selected partner for benefits communication since 2003. We handle benefits enrollments for about 30 districts now and offer our products in dozens of others. Our benefits counselors emphasize a needs-based approach focused on each employee’s individual situation (rather than one “pushing” one-size-fits-all coverage to all employees). Ultimately, though, the payoff from effective benefits communication is much more than getting through the next annual enrollment with a minimum of headaches. It’s about building a longterm partnership between you and your employees based on increased perception of value. As Gilligan points out, employees usually can accept changes, even ones that may cost them more, if they understand the reasons behind them. “Good communication helps form a partnership between the employee and the employer where they’re in this together,” he says. “So yes, my benefits may cost more out of my pocket this year, but I understand the business reason and that this change is necessary to help keep my employer in business so my co-workers and I have jobs. Not only that, good benefits communication helps employees see the total value of their benefits package and helps them take advantage of all the options available. Employees may actually come away realizing their employer is doing a lot more for them than they realized.” 1. Watson Wyatt Worldwide, WorkUSA Survey, 2005. 2. 2008 Job Satisfaction Survey, Society of Human Resource Management. 3. Colonial Life, SHRM National Conference Survey, 2008. 4. Harris Interactive (complete source) 5. National Association of Insurance Commissioners (complete source) 6. Colonial Life, “Target Model and Larger Case Research: Break Out for Benefits Communication and Education,” July 2008.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mike Linebaugh Public Sector Account Executive – South Carolina (803) 422-9847 or michael.linebaugh@ColonialLife.com. Mike Linebaugh, CLU, is a public sector account executive for Colonial Life in South Carolina. He can be reached at (803) 422-9847 or michael.linebaugh@ColonialLife.com. Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company is a market leader in providing insurance benefits for employees and their families through their workplace, along with individual benefits education, advanced yet simple-to-use enrollment technology and quality personal service. Colonial Life offers disability, life and supplemental accident and health insurance policies in 49 states and the District of Columbia. Similar policies, if approved, are underwritten in New York by a Colonial Life affiliate, The Paul Revere Life Insurance Company. Colonial Life is based in Columbia, S.C., and is a subsidiary of Unum Group. To download a free copy of Colonial Life’s white paper on benefits communication and education, “Benefiting the Bottom Line,” visit coloniallife.com and click on About and then Newsroom.

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“Under The Radar”: The Child Abuse Challenge For Your School By: Tom McDaniel

South Carolina educators have a crucial role to play in preventing, identifying, and reporting suspected cases of child abuse– one of the major social and educational issues of our time but one that is often “under the radar.” * Governor Mark Sanford has proclaimed April as Child Abuse Prevention Month in South Carolina to bring special attention to a problem that is often unrecognized by citizens, parents, and educators. How informed are your teachers and staff members in regards to • the definition of child abuse? • the signs of child abuse? • the legal requirements to report child abuse? • the effects of child abuse in the educational process? • the resources available in our state to help educators deal with child abuse? Administrators in the Palmetto state have a duty to children, the law, and their staffs to ensure all that the school is an effective bulwark against the pernicious effects of this crime against the young. A Teacher Conversation: The Child Abuse Scenario Imagine that you, the principal of a public middle school in South Carolina, are enjoying lunch in the faculty workroom where several of your teachers are discussing a student. The conversation goes like this: * Parts of this article are adapted from my chapter “Child Abuse and Bullying in South Carolina” in School Law For South Carolina Educators, Catawba Publishing Company: Charlotte, NC, 2007.

Thelma: “Have ya’ll seen Mary Sue today? She has some bruises that make me wonder if her parents are taking their discipline just a little too far. I know child abuse is rare in the Bible Belt, but it does make you wonder.” Louise: “Well, Mary Sue is hard to handle – has an IEP for her emotional disability—so I have had to use corporal punishment myself to get her to stay in her seat and stop acting up in my class. That seems to work pretty well.” Jim: “I taught her last year in fifth grade, and she was already acting like a teenage vamp, flirting with the boys and trying to be really sexy.” 10 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • SPRING 2009


Rex: “You are right about that, Jim. She always seems nervous around us adults, especially men, and acts aggressively toward other children. But what you and I are seeing doesn’t have anything to do with child abuse, right? Fred: “Folks, Mary Sue needs to get her act together! I hear she once ran away from home, and she sure has trouble concentrating on her classwork. Her self-esteem is the pits, and she has few friends. One day she just pouted and sulked, the next she was bouncing all over the room.” Ethel: “You men! This is nothing more than pre-adolescent behavior! In a few years, she will be just fine. You don’t really think Mary Sue has been abused—do you? Besides, if you reported suspected child abuse and were wrong, you would be in big trouble! What do you think? And what would you do? Of course, any of the particular behaviors your teachers observed and discussed in the conversation above might be perfectly normal childhood or pre-teen behavior. But taken together—especially given the observation of bruises on a regular basis—these might constitute a child abuse syndrome that should be watched, analyzed, and possibly reported. Red Flags What “red flags” and errors in judgment did you observe in the workroom conversation of your teachers? You and your teachers should know that •

Nationally, there are about three million reports of child abuse annually. • Some child or other in South Carolina is abused every 49 minutes. • Over 45,000 children are reported as abused each year in South Carolina. • Nationally, about 1,500 children die from abuse and neglect each year. • Nearly 70 percent of all sexual assaults occur to children 17 and younger. • Eighty-five percent of long-term prisoners were abused as children. • One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18. • Seventy-five percent of high school dropouts have a family history of abuse. • Forty-five percent of abused children become adult alcoholics. • Abused children are 25 times more likely to repeat a grade. In addition to these depressing statistics, you and your teachers should know the many signs of potential child abuse, a crime in South Carolina and every other state.

The Child Abuse Problem in South Carolina Prevent Child Abuse South Carolina is an organization whose website is particularly useful for educators in the state who want to understand the nature of the child abuse problem, statistics about its prevalence, symptoms of its occurrence in given instances, and programs and services for those who need to report suspected cases. For example, the website lists, in addition to the statistics above, these “signals of abuse”: Symptoms of Abuse. Children who are physically abused may: • be nervous around adults. • act aggressively towards adults and other children. • be unable to concentrate at school. • suddenly underachieve, or overachieve, at school. • find it difficult to trust other people and make friends. • give explanations of injuries that are implausible or inconsistent with the injuries. Children who are sexually abused may: • behave differently when the abuse starts. • care less about their appearance or their health. • talk or act sexually at too early of an age. • be secretive and stop talking about home life. • run away from home. • give explanations of injuries inconsistent with those provided by parents. Children who are neglected or emotionally abused may: • find it hard to develop close relationships. • be overly friendly with strangers. • think badly of themselves. • underachieve at school. As the website notes, these signs are not themselves evidence that child abuse has occurred. However, when these signs occur repeatedly or establish a pattern with a combination of several of these signs, the child may be a victim of abuse. The website www.preventchildabusesouthcarolina.com also provides more specific advice for educators, who should be alert to these “classroom clues”: • • • • • •

An aggressive or disruptive child may be acting out what is going on at home. The child may be withdrawn or exceptionally quiet. The school attendance record is poor or characterized by chronic lateness. A child who is unclean or routinely wears torn and dirty clothes may be living with chaos or instability at home. A significant change in behavior, attitude, or concentration is particularly noteworthy. Teachers should pay special attention to changes in behavior of disabled children, who may suffer the brunt of adult rage or frustration at home.

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Definitions: A Legal Perspective What exactly is child abuse? State definitions, even though varying in exact wording, deal with the identification, prevention, and intervention required in that state. “Abuse” is usually injury to a child that is deliberately inflicted, while “neglect” is generally a failure to give children necessary physical or emotional care. States require teachers to report suspected cases of either to authorities. It should be noted that in South Carolina, those who are required by state law to report suspected child abuse are also required by law to report those who place the child at unreasonable risk of harm. For example, a teacher who observes a parent picking up a child from school when the parent has been drinking might well be observing such an unreasonable risk of harm. On the other hand, it might also be important to note that corporal punishment itself is not considered under our state statute as necessarily an act of “abuse.” South Carolina law (§ 20-7-490) identifies the criteria for “non-abuse” corporal punishment. In 1974 Congress passed the National Child Abuse and Prevention Act. This law provided funding to help states that followed the federal reporting requirements. While there is no single definition of child abuse (or significant differences between the concepts of “abuse” and “neglect”), the 1974 federal law defined child abuse and neglect as “physical or mental injury, sexual abuse or exploitation, negligent treatment or maltreatment of a child under 18 or under the age specified by the child protection law of the state in question.” Neglect is the absence of care and protection while abuse is the presence of a harmful act or condition. The term “maltreatment” is a general term that covers all aspects of child abuse and neglect. In 1988 Congress passed the Child Abuse Prevention and Family Services Act, which provided $48 million in funding and established the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect to provide technical assistance and research support for state initiatives in this prevention-oriented aspect of child abuse services. Between the enacting of these two funding and support statutes, the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in 1977 created the Model Child Protection Act. This model included an important protection for those who report suspected child abuse: Such reporters do not have to be sure that abuse or neglect has occurred when making reports to authorities. States, including South Carolina, have routinely incorporated such protection-oriented clauses into state law. All states require reporting of suspected abuse that results in physical injury to a child. South Carolina and most other states also include the required reporting of mental and emotional injury to children. While a reporter does not have to have proof, or even certain knowledge, that a reported incidence of abuse or neglect has occurred, courts do require that reports be made in “good faith” and with a “reason to believe” that child abuse may have occurred. Reports must go not only to school counselors or administrators but also to the Department of Social Services (DSS) to be con-

sidered “reports.” In South Carolina, reports may also go to law enforcement. This option is important because, in an emergency, you get a faster response from law enforcement and, furthermore, law enforcement is always open and accessible. The teachers in “The Child Abuse Scenario” at the beginning of this article should have been quick to identify and report the possible child abuse in Mary Sue’s life and less concerned about the consequences if they report “in good faith.” Answering Your Teachers’ Questions If you conclude that these teachers—your teachers—should know more about the child abuse problem and what they can do about it, you might want to have an in-service program that would address the questions and concerns raised in “The Child Abuse Scenario.” Here are some of those questions with brief answers: 1. Who is required to report suspected child abuse? In South Carolina all medical professionals (including mental health workers), religious healers, school teachers or counselors, social workers, child care workers, day care institutions, law enforcement officers, and judges—and any other person who has reason to believe a child has been abused. Privilege exists only between priest and penitent and attorney and client. Husbands and wives are required to report if they suspect a spouse of child abuse. 2. What protection do I have if I report suspected child abuse and am mistaken? Any reporters of suspected child abuse in South Carolina who reports “in good faith” have a statutory guarantee in The Children’s Code (chapter 20 in the Code of Laws) that protects their identity and also makes them immune form both civil and criminal liability. 3. What consequences for me occur if I suspect abuse and fail to report it? There are few if any cases of charges against such “non-reporters” as their actual knowledge is difficult to prove. However, South Carolina law says that those who “have reason to report” and do not are subject to criminal penalties of up to $500 and/or up to six months in jail. 4. What is this Jessica’s Law I have been reading about in the local paper? This law has been adopted by many states, including South Carolina in 2006, and is named for Jessica Lunsford, a nineyear old Florida girl who was abused, kidnapped, raped, and murdered. It establishes a 25-year prison term for first offense sex abusers of children age 11 and under with a second offense making the death sentence an option. (However, a June 2008 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court will no doubt negate the death sentence aspect of Jessica’s law—unless the child abuse results in the child’s death.) More recently, the South Carolina legislature has considered proposals to elimi-

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nate the “Romeo defense” (“It was love, Judge.”) and the ageignorance defense (“I thought she was 18, Judge”). In 2008, the General Assembly did remove the age-ignorance (or mistake of age) defense but not the “Romeo defense.” The legislature also passed laws permitting certain criminal domestic violence convictions in other states to be considered in penalty determinations in South Carolina convictions and a restriction on where sex offenders may live—specifically, not within 1,000 feet of a school, daycare center, public playground, or children’s recreational facility. Sex offenders may be monitored by GPS satellite surveillance during probation. This recent legislative session also saw the establishment of the Joint Citizens and Legislative Committee on Children to study issues related to children and the creation of the Children’s Trust Fund of South Carolina, which brings together three of the major organizations concerned with children’s issues in the state: Prevent Child Abuse, Voices for Children, and Children’s Trust Fund of South Carolina. 5. Where can I go to find out more about child abuse? As noted earlier, Prevent Child Abuse South Carolina, now consolidated in the Children’s Trust Fund of South Carolina, has excellent information regarding all aspects of child abuse in our state. The Department of Social Services has extensive information, including how to report. (Both DSS and police

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departments receive child abuse reports.) Darkness to Light’s Stewards of Children (www.darkness2light.org) provides a comprehensive training program to help community groups and agencies “to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.” There are 17 children’s advocacy centers in South Carolina that are excellent resources for educators and parents in many communities. Mothers Against Sexual Abuse, National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, and a host of other community and government agencies provide information and support for those who are interested. Your school counselor should have pertinent information about school policies and procedures for reporting suspected abuse. A Final Thought Child abuse is a national, state, and local epidemic—under-recognized and under-reported. Its impact on the physical, social, and educational well being of children is immense. As the statistics quoted at the beginning of this article indicate, there is much for South Carolina educators to do to address this “under the radar” phenomenon that haunts every school. Palmetto administrators have opportunities—obligations, even—to help their staffs and students address this crisis with training, information, and preventive action. The challenge belongs to all of us, and educators should lead the way.


Creating and Sustaining a Freshman Academy By: C. Mason Gary, Ph.D.

As practitioners of the greatest and most noble profession, public education, we must continue growing our craft by “breaking ranks” with the status quo and initiating change where it is beneficial to our students. Eight years ago at Palmetto High, a committed group of teachers and administrators did just that and a very effective Freshman Academy was created for our rising ninth grade students. The road to success of this program has been a journey to say the least, but to see the positive impact this has had on our students has been nothing short of amazing. If you are considering implementing a Freshman Academy, or if you have implemented one but have seemed to lose your steam, please give us a call or pay us a visit and see ours in action. I have been a public school educator for twenty years and this program has had the most positive impact on success of ninth graders that I have ever witnessed. Please read ahead and let me share some of our insights with you. It has often been said ninth grade performance is often considered the strongest predictor of high school success. Traditionally, ninth graders have little to no transitional or academic assistance in place and making the move from middle to high school is often daunting enough. Examining this transition, students are moving from more to less structure, more content classes that now earn Carnegie units towards graduation, and from dependence to independence. We must ask ourselves “Are students ready for this move in the traditional setting or do we need to do business differently?” Some of the basic research regarding ninth graders indicates they need a comfortable learning environment with a strong support base and their developmental needs must receive attention. We believe a strong connection with a caring adult must also be present and this program provides this in many ways. Freshman Academies are also connected to the tenets found in Breaking Ranks II, Turning Points 2000, and This We Believe. The National Dropout Prevention Center also cites the Freshman Academy concept as one of the most successful ways to reduce dropouts. Let me encourage you, at this point, to do your own research at your school to see what is occurring with your ninth graders on a longitudinal basis. Ask questions such as: How many freshmen fail either ninth grade or more specifically core subjects? Of this number how many graduate four years later? How many discipline infractions occur during the ninth grade as compared with tenth through twelfth grade? We discovered at Palmetto High, four of ten students who entered our doors as freshmen did not graduate. When this statistic was presented to our board of trustees, the evening this concept was introduced, the room became silent. Why? Of your students, which four would you select? When this statistic becomes personal, in other words you place names with the numbers, it becomes apparent very quickly something different must be done. Our statistics matched what

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we found nationally, four of ten students drop out of high school. Considering the economic impact of this, high school graduates earn approximately $9,634 per year more than dropouts according to the Census Bureau. Not to mention the other negative economic impact of lost earnings and unrealized tax revenue that dropouts cost our nation during what should be years of gainful employment. The Alliance for Excellent Education (2007) reports, “if the students who dropped out of the class of 2007 had graduated, the nation’s economy would have benefited from an additional $329 billion in income over their lifetimes.” Another sobering point is seventy-five percent of America’s prisoners are high school dropouts (Harlow, 2003). In South Carolina, based on all funds spent, it costs $16,432 per inmate yearly according to the South Carolina Department of Corrections. Imagine what we could do if we had $16,432 a year as a per pupil expenditure! Another historical point to consider, especially for some of our economically deprived areas is high school students living in low income families drop out of school at six times the rate of their peers from high-income families according to the U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2004.

2) Teams – How many teams will we need, how will they be organized, and what size will they be? We average around 200 freshmen each year so two teams of five teachers and approximately 100 students works well for us. 3) Schedule – Consider daily contact but don’t let your schedule tell you what to do. Be innovative with this. We actually have three schedules working within our school simultaneously – daily 45’s for freshmen, A/B for tenth through twelfth, and 60’s for our special education classes. I would encourage you to keep small class sizes to aid with the transition piece. Lastly, consider which courses you will implement or make available to your freshmen. See Table 1.

The Concept Palmetto High’s Freshman Academy uti- (Students may choose from a variety of Related Arts after the graduation requirements of Physical Edulizes a team approach that is commonly cation or AFJROTC. Others to select from are: Art, Band, Chorus, Family & Consumer Homemaking, found in progressive middle schools to- Industrial Technology or Strings.) day. Ninth graders are placed on a team of five core academic teachers. This 4) Funding sources – Small Learning Community grants are teaming approach allows teachers to get to know their students available for schools over 1000 students but also utilize disvery well, thus academic and personal needs of the students can trict and local funds. Our first year of implementation was be met by drawing on the strengths of the “whole” rather than done with no additional staff or funds and we located ouron the randomness of individual teachers. Our teachers utilize a selves in a wing of the school. My point here is the concept mastery approach based on the South Carolina standards. Theworks regardless of funding if the other factors are in place. matic units and “mastery units” are utilized throughout the year so content as a whole can be inter-related demonstrating connec5) Location – The beauty is you can decide what works best tions in content. A good one-liner to summarize this approach is for your school but I would advocate for a separate wing or “we have the heart of the elementary school, the teaming of the facility to reduce the amount of upper-classmen middle school, and the curriculum of the high school.” interaction. Points to Consider Before creating or implementing a freshman Academy consider Common Planning Our Freshman Academy teachers share a common planning time these items: at the end of each day which assists them with the following: 1) 1) Teacher selection – Teachers must have an affinity for ninth individual/curricular partner planning – our teachers are able to graders, the ability and desire to be innovative and a team work together on lesson plans, assessments, projects etc. 2) team player, and masters of their content. I have witnessed some meetings – as needed our teachers meet to discuss what is going schools attempting this approach select one or two teachers on with students and this allows them to identify common stuwho do not embrace this concept, and then sabotage occurred. dents who are struggling academically, behaviorally or socially. Conversely, select the right teachers as we have and get out 3) Academy meetings – these are used to plan Academy-wide of the way because great innovation and instruction are sure events such as reward days, field trips, and special days such as Science Day, Epcot Day, and Greek Day. to follow.

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Longitudinal Results Each year of our Freshmen Academy, we have surveyed our students to identify the strengths and weaknesses of our approach from their points of view. We tally the results and then plot and rank their responses based on the components that make up our academy concept. There are nine components we analyze and this is the seven year longitudinal ranking of each: 1st- teacher commitment; 2nd – 45-minute classes; 3rd – curricular focus; 4th – methods of instruction; 5th – sense of belonging; 6th – middle school concept; 7th – transition; 8th – discipline; and, 9th – attendance. Please contact me for more information on data analysis or for a copy of the survey that we use to compile this data. Refer to Tables 2 through 4 for examples of more data we collect. You will notice that the number of infractions have increased and one factor is because we began charting every offense and the teachers are more involved in the discipline of students. Our first three years only suspension data was recorded. I would caution you to be thorough from the onset to alleviate the same skewed data from occurring at your school. What our teachers have to say! Kim Shuey – “As far as sustaining an academy…to me the most important thing is common planning for my curriculum partner and my team. If we did not have that, then we could not stay caught up with what the kids are doing, owe, etc. Also, administration support is vital. Mr. Couch is such an asset to our program. He calls parents, sets up conferences, and meets with kids. Our counselor, Mr. Boozer is another important factor. He is 100% with the program and does whatever we need, when we need it. The conferences he sets up are so important. Above all else, the kids know that we care about them. If we didn’t have a committed faculty we could not have the success we have had.” Mr. Stan Yarborough – These are the keys I think to Sustaining a Freshman Academy: 1) The expectations have stayed the same. “Success Nothing Less” is our motto and all of the new teachers have bought into this model. Only the Math teachers and I are the same from the beginning, but I think the curriculum teachers have done a good job with their partner showing them the ways of the Academy.

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2) The teachers get along because we spend so much time together. When new teachers come on board the group has done an outstanding job in making them feel welcome. I think the summer planning sessions go a long way in bringing the group together. When you meet away from the school the teachers are more likely to let their guard down and open up to a new group. Eating lunch together, planning meetings with our partners, and just hanging out together helps bring the group closer together. I think the number one key to having a successful academy is creating that sense of “team” among the teachers. The idea that we are all a family is something that has developed within our academy. 3) Teaming of students when they aren’t meeting expectations, and a meeting with their parents when things are not going well

is another key. In a given year, we have usually 12-15 “at-risk” students that are in danger of not passing for the year. By meeting often we can discuss these kids and make plans to help these students find success.


Amy McKee – “To me, our Freshman Academy is successful and sustaining because: 1) the faculty involved believes in it; 2) the administration supports it; 3) the students buy in to it; 4) the resources are available through our efforts; 5) the community supports it; 6) on bad days, I’d rather be here than anywhere else because it is still great; and 7) the outcome is worth the effort.” Summer Landreth – “The Freshman Academy gives students the opportunity to participate in school activities without feeling intimidated by the upperclassmen. It instills a sense of importance to students about completing assigned work. Students will complete the work or be assigned to the after school program until they do it. The Academy works because the administration is fully behind it. The Freshman Academy concept is very effective in transitioning our ninth grade students as they enter the last phase of public education. Although obstacles for implementation exist, the benefits far outweigh them, and the results are

improvement not only during the freshman year but more importantly in preparing our students for graduation and a productive life after high school. References Alliance for Excellent Education Issue Brief. (2007, October). The High Cost of High School Dropouts: Why the nation pays for inadequate high schools. Washington, DC. Harlow, C.W. (2003, January). Education and correctional populations. Bureau of Justice Special report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice. South Carolina Department of Corrections, (2008). Retrieved fromhttp://www.doc.sc.gov/research/BudgetAndExpenditures/ perinmatecost07.pdf U.S. Bureau of the Census. (2006). Income in 2005 by educational attainment of the population 18 years and over. Table 8. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved from http://www.census.gov/population/www/socdemo/education/cps2006.html U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2004). The condition of education 2004. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, Indicator 16, p. 61.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: C. Mason Gary, Ph.D. Palmetto High School, Belton, SC 29627 864-844-2329 (c) or 864-847-7311(w) Dr. Gary has served as principal at Palmetto High for the last 10 years. He has also served as an assistant principal, teacher, coach, and administrative assistant. He serves as an adjunct professor for Clemson University and Southern Wesleyan University and was named Clemson University 2008 Adjunct Professor of the Year. Dr. Gary was a finalist for SCASA’s 2008 Principal of the Year and received his Ph.D. from Clemson University in Educational Leadership. He received his M.Ed. and Ed.S. also from Clemson University in Administration and Supervision and his B.S. in History from Lander University.

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The Importance of Homeless Education By: Jayme Wilson

I am a first grade teacher in Aiken County and over this past summer I took a course in Homeless Education. I then realized the importance of this information to all people working with children. I had been teaching for three years when I took this course and I did not know any of the information that was given to me. I began to wonder the number of teachers that are teaching in the state of South Carolina that are uninformed about the issues of teaching the homeless. I know that there are many administrators that know this information, but I have found that teachers do not know about this. I have spoken with the teachers that I work with and the other teachers that are taking my classes this semester and I have only found one person who knew all of

this and he was an administrator. I think it would be a great idea for administrators to give their teachers a refresher on what is included in homeless education. In this article I want to discuss what I learned in this course and why it is important to the success of the students that we come in contact with everyday. Brenda Myers, the State Coordinator for Homeless Education, came to speak to our class and she had great information that can be used in any instance in which you work with homeless children or families. She is also available to come to any school in the state to educate them on the rights of the homeless. In her lecture she discussed what the McKinney 窶天ento Homeless

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still have the right to be schooled. The homeless liaison will help them to attain all of the information they need after the child is already being educated. What I have found is that there are so many people working with children who do not have any idea what the rights of the homeless may be. Also, there may be many administrators who know all of these rights, but teachers may be unsure. It would do all teachers justice to refresh their memories on the rights of the homeless so that all students are receiving all resources that can help them become successful. On the South Carolina Homeless Education website there is a table that shows how many students we have in the state of South Carolina who are considered homeless. (Insert table 1 here)

Education Act does for children that are homeless. Some of the reasons for people becoming homeless are extreme poverty, no affordable housing, illness, running from domestic violence, and natural disasters. In the Act it states that, “homeless means individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence (McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Act, 2001).” When being considered homeless you only have to have one portion of the definition of homeless. What this means is that it can be just one of the three. If they have a place to reside, but it is not adequate then they can still be considered homeless. During enrollment, schools are required to accept homeless children in within 24 hours of them appearing at that school. In the best scenarios the child would be allowed to come to class immediately. When there is a homeless situation they are not required to show any proof of anything. If they are homeless then of course they would not have proof of residency, but they 22 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • SPRING 2009

This table was created by information that was given during the 2007-2008 school year in the state of South Carolina. This information opened my eyes to see how many students we are teaching that are affected by being homeless. I spoke with Mrs. Brenda Myers again and discussed with her why it seems that the numbers of homeless students goes down as the students get older. She told me that the reason for the drop in numbers is that as students reach the 6th grade and beyond they begin to hide the fact that they are homeless. They do this because they do not want to be taken from their families. Also, what I have realized is that a lot of people who fall under the definition of homeless do not realize that they are considered homeless or do not want to think of themselves as such. We need to find a way to help these families to realize that there is help out there for them. If we help take care of some of their everyday needs then these students can focus more on what they are learning in school. Also, she educated me on what it means to be an unaccompanied minor. We usually think of these as teenagers who have run away from home or who have been kicked out by a family member. “Unaccompanied youth include young people who have run away from home, been thrown out of their homes, and/ or been abandoned by parents or guardians (National Center for Homeless Education, National Association for the Education of Children & Youth, & National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, 2008).” When we discussed unaccompanied minors and the definition I realized that I have had unaccompanied minors in my first grade classrooms. In the McKinney-Vento 2001 Law into Practice brief document they also give some startling statistics such as,


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• •

“Over half of these youth report being physically abused at home, and over one-third report sexual abuse (National Center for Homeless Education et.al., 2008).” “Over two thirds report that at least one of their parents abuses drugs or alcohol. For many of these young people, leaving home is a survival issue (National Center for Homeless Education et.al., 2008).” “Over half of youth living in shelters report that their parents either told them to leave or knew they were leaving and did not care (National Center for Homeless Education et.al, 2008).” “The primary causes for homelessness among unaccompanied youth are physical and sexual abuse by a parent or guardian, neglect, parental substance abuse, and family conflict (National Center for Homeless Education et.al., 2008).”

These children or youths are leaving home because they are being forced by their parents to leave for many reasons. The sad part is that a lot of the parents do not care that their child is gone. School districts have many things that they have to implement to be in compliance with the McKinney-Vento Act. They must help unaccompanied youth understand their rights and help them enroll in school. They must also provide transportation to the student’s school of choice, whether it is school of origin or school of proximity. In dealing with unaccompanied youth we have to make sure that we are doing what is in their best interests. We as school personnel need to help these children succeed and graduate to become effective members of society. The last issue I want to discuss is common signs of homelessness. Teachers in your schools need to know what to look for. These are some common signs: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Lack of Continuity in Education Attendance at many different schools Lack of records needed to enroll Inability to pay fees Gaps in skill development Mistaken diagnosis of abilities Poor organizational skills Poor ability to conceptualize Poor Health/Nutrition Lack of immunization and/or immunization records Unmet medical and dental needs Respiratory problems Skin rashes Chronic hunger (may hoard food) Fatigue (may fall asleep in class) Transportation and Attendance Erratic attendance and tardiness Numerous absences Lack of preparation in after-school activities Lack of preparation in field trips Inability to contact parents Poor Hygiene

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• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Lack of shower facilities/washers, etc. Wearing same clothes for several days Inconsistent grooming Lack of Personal Space After School Consistent lack of preparation for school Incomplete or missing homework (co place to work or keep supplies) Unable to complete special projects (no access to supplies) Loss of books and other supplies on a regular basis Concern for safety of belongings Social and Behavioral Concerns A marked change in behavior Poor/short attention span Poor self-esteem Extreme shyness Unwillingness to risk forming relationships with peers and teachers Difficulty socializing at recess Aggression “Old” beyond years Protective of parents Clinging behavior Developmental delays Fear of abandonment School phobia (student wants to be with parent) Anxiety late in the school day

All of this information came from a flyer done by the State Departments of Education in Illinois and Pennsylvania and was included in the McKinney-Vento 2001 – Law Into Practice document. There are so many signs of a child being homeless. These are some things to keep your eyes open for of students of any age. I think we as teachers and administrators should have all of the knowledge that we can receive about the homeless. These students already have so much against them that we need to try to help these students out. Again, many teachers do not have this information and I think it would be great for administrators to shine some light on this subject. I think teachers could really make a huge different in the lives of these students if only they knew what could actually be done.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jayme Wilson Graniteville, SC 29829 • 803-232-0871 First grade teacher working on my Ed. Specialist in Early Childhood First grade teacher in Aiken County. Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of South Carolina. Educational Specialist Degree in Early Childhood Education (Spring 2009)


Position: Abu Dhabi, United Emirates – School Principals & Teachers Institution: American International Development Council Inc Location: Florida Date posted: February 12,2009 ABU DHABI – SCHOOL PRINCIPALS AND TEACHERS Would you like to be involved in shaping the Education System for one of the most dynamic and exciting economies on the planet? Abu Dhabi is a liberal ultra modern city with every possible amenity, shopping and fun that you can imagine with proximity to Arabian and Asian travel opportunities. Principals Qualifications – Minimum Bachelor Degree, preferably a Masters or better, with a Teaching Certificate and minimum of Five years as a School Principal. Teachers Qualifications – Minimum Bachelor Degree, with a Teaching Certificate and minimum of Three years of teaching experience. Duration – 2 to 3 years in Abu Dhabi, starting September 2009. Compensation – A handsome tax free compensation package, includes airfare, fee, air-conditioned accommodation, health coverage, settling-in-allowance, children’s education allowance, numerous statutory holidays, long summer paid vacations. Please respond with a detailed CV, Attn: VP – HRD, AIDCUSA@aol.com by deadline of March 15, 2009. All enquires acknowledged. SPRING 2009 • PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR 25


The Value of Financial Education Teaching Financial Literacy Together By: Suzette N. Morganelli

The current state of the economy demonstrates most effectively the importance of including financial literacy as part of a high quality financial education. In fact, the South Carolina Financial Literacy Act mandates teaching financial education in high schools in an effort to reverse some startling statistics: • • •

Fewer than half of teens in a national survey understood how to budget. (Charles Schwab Foundation, 2006) Entering college, freshmen have an average debt of $1,500 on personal credit cards. (www.bankruptcyreader.com, 2006) Americans under age 25 are filing for bankruptcy faster than any other age group. (Press & Sun Bulletin, 2006)

Thankfully, there are excellent financial resources available for teachers to use in the classroom. When Lieutenant Colonel Charles White of Blythewood High School was looking for materials to use in his ROTC class for high school students, he turned to State Credit Union for recommendations. Suzette Morganelli, manager of the Financial Counseling & Education department, introduced him to the High School Financial Planning Program provided by the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE). The materials are free, totally non-commercial and have a program correlated to all state standards and relevant national standards.

NEFE High School Financial Planning Program solutions: For teachers: • Free, non-commercial turnkey materials • Step-by-step teaching plan and detailed materials list • Split-page design that enables teachers to see what the student sees • Dynamic PowerPoint® presentation visuals For students: • Edgy, teen-friendly design and writing • Clearly stated learning objectives • Assessments that let the student apply the learning • Abundant Web resources 26 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • SPRING 2009


Making it Real Colonel White supplements the comprehensive curriculum with creative assignments. In a recent class, White asked students to imagine they had won $500,000 in the lottery and had to use all the money in one day. What would they do with it? Save, spend, invest? How much and on what items? The resulting student scenarios indicated a wide range of knowledge about realistic costs. White also asked his students to engage their parents’ assistance and create a budget based on the salary of their chosen career. The NEFE program provides a variety of classroom activities that promote critical thinking as well as assignments that take learning out of the classroom. Special South Carolina Support In South Carolina, the NEFE High School Financial Planning program has unique benefits and support due to Morganelli’s partnership with ETV and the Department of Education. Teachers can earn one hour or 20 renewal recertification credits by attending an online Financial Literacy Workshop produced by ETV. The webinar trains teachers on using the NEFE program in their classrooms and eliminates the need to attend an introductory session in person. The webinar provides the instruction, training and course assignments. You can learn more at State Credit Union’s Web site www.scscu.com/ teachers. Get Paid for Teaching It! Additionally, teachers who implement the NEFE High School Financial Planning Program can enter State Credit Union’s scholarship and awards program. A $500 unrestricted cash award is presented for the best NEFE program implementation, based on teacher essays received. Awards of $500 and $1,000 are provided at the school and student levels respectively. Learn more at www.scscu.com/scholarship.

Suzette Morganelli, manager of State Credit Union’s Financial Education department, visits with Lieutenant Colonel Charles White in his Blythewood High School classroom.

Morganelli explains to Blythewood students how to enter SCU’s Scholarship and Awards program after taking the NEFE High School Financial Planning course.

To receive a free NEFE information kit and student workbook, e-mail Morganelli at suzette@scscu.com or call her at 800-8688740, ext. 8417. References Charles Schwab Foundation, Teens & Money Survey, 2006 Press & Sun Bulletin, “America’s Most Wanted: Our FreeSpending Teens,” 2006 www.bankruptcyreader.com, “3 Steps to Help Your Teen Stay Debt Free,” 2006

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Suzette N. Morganelli State Credit Union, Columbia, SC 29201 803-343-0300, ext. 8417 • suzette@scscu.com Manager, Financial Counseling & Education Department Suzette leads State Credit Union’s Financial Counseling and Education department and is a recipient of the national Desjardins youth financial education award. Through a partnership with ETV and the South Carolina Department of Education, Morganelli has provided financial literacy tools, training and incentives to educators throughout the state.

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Keeping It Real By: Dr. Jacqueline Mayo

A

s administrators, we are faced helping new teachers get the knowledge base of veteran teachers with fulfilling the federal in a short period of time. Our solution was to conduct a two-day mandate of No Child Left New Teachers Institute during the first week of August. All trainBehind which sets standards which ing was done in-house by veteran teachers, our lead teacher, and are constantly being raised. Along me. Each new teacher was given a mentor and a buddy teacher. with a moving bar, there is abso- Throughout the year, we conducted weekly team meetings, held lutely no allowance made for special individual conferences, viewed instructional videos, discussed circumstances such as high poverty, professional articles, and analyzed assessment data. a high percentage of single parent householders, or a high percentage of parents without college Added to the training of our new teachers was the continuation degrees which research has shown can make a difference in how of professional development for our entire staff. Each week, I students perform in school. So the question many of us have met with all grade level teams. Looking at students individually gave us a picture of our at-risk asked is “How conceivable is students and a plan was develit for a school to beat the odds oped. This plan was a work with limited resources and in progress. Sometimes we sometimes a less than highly “How conceivable is it for a school to got it right the very first time, qualified staff?” Being realisbut most of the time we had tic, we probably are not going beat the odds with limited resources to keep trying until we found to get additional funds and we and sometimes a less than highly what worked with a particular probably are not going to get a student. staff with all highly qualified qualified staff?” Being realistic, we teachers. So how do we make With analyzing data on a conit happen in spite of the odds? probably are not going to get additinuous basis, we realized that There are probably several difwe had a group of students who ferent approaches to tackling tional funds and we probably are not were our slow learners, who the federal requirements of just did not respond to a daily making adequate yearly proggoing to get a staff with all highly thirty or even a sixty minute ress, but this article will discuss intervention. These students one school’s journey in beating qualified teachers. did not qualify for special eduthe odds. Guinyard Elementary cation services but desperately School has made AYP for the needed additional assistance in last five consecutive years and the classroom. It soon became this is how we did it. apparent to us that we needed an all day intervention program Guinyard Elementary is a rural school in Calhoun County which designed especially for the slow learner. We called this intervenhas a poverty rate of 98% and an African-American population tion program Junior Kindergarten (JK), Junior First (JF), Junior of 85%. We have approximately 620 students distributed among Second (JS), and Junior Third (JT). three child development classes, four kindergarten classes, six first grade classes, five second grade classes, five third grade In addition to our junior classes, we have literacy group instrucclasses, five fourth grade classes, five fifth grade classes, three tion for all students in kindergarten (except JK), first, second, Montessori classes, one pre-school handicapped class, and one and third grade. Literacy groups are held four days per week. There is a specialized format that the teacher and the literacy elementary self-contained class. coaches follow. Our kindergarten pre-literacy groups begin at Just like some of you, we have a problem with retention of staff, the start of the second nine weeks. especially in the fourth and fifth grades. Last school year, sixty percent of our fourth grade teachers were first year teachers and To make sure that no student falls between the cracks, we DIBEL forty percent of our fifth grade teachers were new to South Caro- all of our kindergarten through fifth grade students three times lina. The federal government does not allow for a new teacher per year. Students who need additional assistance receive inlearning curve; therefore, we had to come up with a solution to class Tier 1 and Tier 2 interventions. As Tier 1 and Tier 2 inter-

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ventions are carried out, the students are assessed weekly with the DIBELS instrument. These results are reviewed at the RTI meetings. At this point, I would love to say that now all of our fourth and fifth grade students are on grade level and interventions are not needed. However, this is not the case. At this point, our interventions just change somewhat because of state standardized testing. Our reading specialist provides intensive small group instruction for forty-five minutes to our at-risk students. The interventions scheduled during the school day are supplemented with afterschool and Saturday school interventions for grades two through five. My teachers and guidance counselors emphasize the need for our slow learners to attend. At Guinyard Elementary, we are trying to not leave any child behind. The following charts show where we were six years ago and where we are now. It is and always will be a work in progress.

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(Two of Guinyard’s teachers qualified for the 100% club- 100% of their students passed all four parts of PACT.)

To make sure that no student falls between the cracks, we DIBEL all of our kindergarten through fifth grade students three times per year.

These are just some of the instructional strategies which we use in teaching students who need additional assistance in language arts. As with our language arts program, our mathematics program is constantly evolving. Presently, we are providing all of our child development through second grade students with a Montessori math approach. Montessori math groups are held four days per week. Just like the literacy model there is a specialized format that the teacher and the math coaches follow. For many of our young ones, they are now understanding math rather than memorizing a process. In conclusion, I would like to say that there is not one right way or one right answer but many ways and many answers. The attempt of this article has been to share one school’s journey and to keep it real. May all of us continue to make a difference in the lives of children who are at-risk or at-promise.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. Jacqueline Mayo, B.A., M.Ed., Ph.D. Columbia, South Carolina 29210-6156 • (803) 731-2712 For the last five and one-half years, I have been the principal at Guinyard Elementary School. Previously, I have worked as a Director of Instructional Programs and as a consultant with the State Department of Education.

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“Walk One World”: Developing Healthy Habits While Incorporating Education, Community and Mentoring Into One Program By: Janice M. Keller

Hundreds of walking clubs exist in elementary schools. But this school has incorporated map reading, geography, fitness, mentoring, and a website all in one! When the Walk One World walking club began its first day of walking, it simply was a way to engage students in a healthy activity while they waited for the school day to begin. In August of 2007, students who arrived to school before the 8:30 am bell would sit in the cafeteria and be monitored by a staff member. Fortunately, it became obvious by the second day that students needed an alternate location and activity as the noise level was hard to maintain, as well as provide a quieter outlet for students who did not enjoy the commotion. The walking club began in September 2007, organization and goal-setting quickly became the focus. In order to establish an organized routine, book bags were deposited according to the student’s grade level. For instance, if you were a first grader, you always put your book bag on the edge of the ‘blue line’ every morning. Second through fifth grades also had a specific location, thereby enabling students to quickly retrieve the book bags at the end of the walk. In addition, another organizational tactic was to have students walk in one direction only, and also stay ‘in the red sidewalk,’ or the outside of the gym floor. This enabled a flow of traffic that allowed for over 100 students to walk each day with ease. A whistle command was used that enabled participants to hear over the music and react immediately. One whistle meant that each student had to stop and touch their knees and quickly get quiet. Music was played daily and with over 100 students chatting and walking, this whistle rule proved to be extremely effective.

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As September drew to a close, a large United States map was placed on the wall and I developed the plan to have our club ‘walk’ across the United States. Exactly twenty-two laps around the outside of the gym were equivalent to one mile, and our walk across the United States was done as a group. Initially, I kept the distance logged with only one map and daily sign-in sheets to keep track of students and the distance that we covered. Before long, we had left Hilton Head Island and were heading towards Alabama, with the goal of reaching Sacramento, California by year’s end. But word of the early morning walking club spread among the students at the school, and before long, a few parents had joined our club to walk with their child. One of these parents was overwhelmed with the number of students walking around our gym and looking at the map on the wall to see where we were. Much to my surprise, this mother turned out to be not only a parent to one of my students, but also a representative for AAA of the Carolinas! Before long, we had maps for every student in the club. Consequently, “map day” became a regular phase of the program where maps are handed out at the beginning of our new adventure, and students are matched with a ‘buddy’ to help locate the cities and states. This community liason for the Walk One World walking club became the spark that

ignited the enthusiasm with the students. Before we knew it, we were holding random ‘ticket’ days, where students would come in and get a ticket and numbers were drawn at the end of that day. Prizes from AAA of the Carolinas included stuffed animals, jump ropes, bike helmets, pedometers, flags, beach ball globes, and pencils. Students continued to walk and locate cities, and 34 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • SPRING 2009

the number of parents walking fluctuated from week to week. Before we knew it, our group of over 132 children and parents had reached our final destination, and it was only December! I knew that I needed a plan to continue to promote the fitness and the enthusiasm that I had seen with the students in regards to map reading. In addition, I couldn’t believe how many students couldn’t wait to come walk each morning. When provided with an outlet and alternative to sitting, these students wanted to walk! By the time we reached our holiday break, I knew I had to come back with a plan to keep walking….but to what or where? An internet search lead me to the story of the two Kunst brothers, who actually circumnavigated the globe from 1970-1974. Their story is chronicled in The Man Who Walked Around the World, by Dave Kunst. In addition, these brothers have also been featured in several Guiness Book of World Records as well as in city documents and government buildings in each of the cities that they walked through. Their story is one of dreams, perseverance, goal-setting and the human spirit as they walked through four continents and 13 countries in four years, three months, and sixteen days. Without a doubt, this story was one that could not only keep us walking and staying fit, but also incorporate map reading beyond the United States, and take us ‘overseas’ where we could travel as a group to other countries, cultures, and follow a route that a ‘real’ person had actually walked. In addition, AAA of the Carolinas once again added their support in the form of world maps which were handed out to each student. “Map Day” was held once again in the gym, and students helped others as we located the countries that


we would attempt to walk through. The story was told to the club members as they worked diligently to locate the continents and countries. Enthusiasm grew each day as the PTA of the school came through with a map that would take 8 panels to mount on the wall of the gymnasium. This map became a focal point for all the students in the school as nobody had seen a world map so large! Numbers were placed on the map, indicating exactly where we were and our final destination. Parents and community members occasionally came to walk in the morning with the students, as well as local AAA representatives, including the District representative. Local sponsor, Chick-Fil-A also added their support, with the ‘cow’ arriving to help us celebrate our culminating event which took place on June 1, 2008. The students, parents, and community had logged 14,450 miles the first year of walking as a group. Our final mile became a school-wide celebration as the media, community groups, PTA, Principal, Assistant Principals, and entire school faculty walked the final mile on the nearby high school track. Water was distributed on the final lap and students headed for the nearby Visual Performing Arts Center at the high school for a presentation. Students were surprised to watch a 20-minute video, set to music, of the entire year of walking and working out in physical

education classes. Every child was featured in the video and the excitement was overwhelming as fitness and geography came together as the community celebrated a year of growing, learning and working together to reach a common goal. Local sponsors, AAA of the Carolinas and Chick-Fil-A were honored for their

constant support of our efforts to provide students with the opportunity to walk for a purpose, stay fit, and learn about various cultures and countries; In August of 2008, year two began with the Walk One World walking club with the same procedures in place that helped establish our organization and routines the previous year. Book bags were once again placed in an appropriate pile, one whistle meant to stop and freeze and music played with the addition of a new speaker system. In addition, Walking Club Captains were stationed on the corners of the gym monitoring students, assisting younger students with book bag placement, and keeping our gym safe. The number of student walkers averaged between 80-135 students a day, and a new route and adventure was planned. After the first week of establishing the routine and procedures, ‘Map Day’ was held with AAA of the Carolinas and students were once again given their personal maps of the United States and the world. Fifth grade students were matched with first graders, fourth with second graders, and third graders worked together once again. The excitement was obvious as the students wanted to know “where are we walking to this year?” It was exciting to inform over 100 students that we would travel to the New 7 Wonders of the World, which were declared in July, 2007 in Lisbon and included several countries that many of our students were from. In addition, it was rewarding to have students recognize locations identified last year with our maps, and incredible to see how excited students were with learning new geography! But that wasn’t all that the students were excited about. Because the celebration was such a success, the students in the club

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began to ask about our final goal, the miles it would take to accomplish the walk, and what kind of party was in store if they reached the final 7th Wonder. Captains explained that the club would sell water each morning and all proceeds would pay for the picnic at the end of the year, if we walked the distance which doubled the previous year. This meant that students had to get to school and walk their one mile five days a week in order for our group to achieve a distance of 30,000 miles. The task seemed daunting, but with the walker number so large, the distance was achievable. Captains were assigned a mentee, or Junior Captain (younger student) who would work alongside them and learn how to monitor bookbags and student behavior. The more students that took ownership of their walk, the better behaved our group became. Students began to reinforce walking, not running, staying on the outside of the gym to get the full mile, and supported all procedures. Before long, many students were requesting to be involved in the Jr. Captain program, with hopes of one day becoming a Captain. Criterion was established that set the standard high to be considered a Captain, and these students became role models for our school’s character mission statement. In addition, the role of Captain became empowering, thereby increasing personal responsibility and setting the standard for personal behavior. What was started as simply something other than sitting in the cafeteria, has now become the event that starts the morning at our elementary school. Students never know what day will be ‘ticket day,’ (where prizes are randomly handed out), or what idea has just been developed. But the amazing fact remains: despite the organization, rules, procedures and sheer volume of walkers, the students keep coming back the next day! Walking has never been so ‘cool,’ and map reading has never been easier when everyone gets their own map and mentors help with locations. In addition, the community members who so generously offered support and donations, including a natural connection to the local AAA office, the club cannot help but continue to grow. The domain website of walkoneworld.com is now a product of our groups efforts to expand our club’s success and help other schools get started. Principal Gretchen Keefner, herself a walker and fitness advocate, has encouraged the community to join the students on whichever day they can fit it into their busy schedules. In addition, Assistant Principals Amy Kaufman and Pam Maddox sometimes join our group and walk with the student body of the school, getting to know the children. 36 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • SPRING 2009

Students have not only witnessed the administrative support towards their fitness and geography efforts, but also celebrated alongside our leaders as we reach final destinations. What started as simply a ‘club’ has now grown to a web-worthy cause that allows information to be accessed by other schools and organizations. Groups can now follow our lead and develop programs in South Carolina that create cross-curriculum activities and sponsorship, as well as developing community relations. The website of walkoneworld.com has been a positive continuation of the student’s involvement in the walking club, with membership levels rising each year. The website allows students, parents, community members and beyond, the opportunity to learn as we learn, track our distances, and get involved in future projects. This walking club has grown to be much more than a diversion for students waiting before school. It’s impact upon student learning, personal responsibility, geography awareness, leadership qualities and good character traits has been tremendous. Together, our school and the Hilton Head Island Community are forerunners in the pursuit of a high quality education for all South Carolinian children! References Kunst,D. & Trowbridge,C. (1979), The Man Who Walked Around the World. William Morrow, New York, N.Y. World Walk Travel Adventure. (n.d.). The First Verified Walk Round the Earth. Retrieved September 5, 2007, from http://home.earthlink.net/~earthwalker1/.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Janice M. Keller Gaffney, SC 29341 • 864-761-6850 janice.keller@gw.cherokee1.k12.sc.us Principal of Blacksburg Elementary School, Cherokee County School District Specialist in Administration/National Board Certification Began education career as a Title One assistant in ‘77, taught elementary grades for 12 years, served as assistant principal, and last 12 years as an elementary principal for Cherokee County Schools. Mother of four, published in past issue of Palmetto Administrator-Spring ‘04


Economics is Everywhere . . . Reading, Math, Science, Social Studies . . . Art! By: Michele Reap

Economics is everywhere. If you don’t believe it, just ask Jessica Shusky, the art teacher at Vance Providence Elementary School in Orangeburg County Consolidated School District 3. For the last several years, Shusky has entered her students in the South Carolina Council on Economic Education’s (SCCEE) Economic Concepts Poster Contest. While the students in her class are working on their drawing skills, they’re also learning about scarcity, opportunity cost, and producers and consumers. Introducing South Carolina’s youngest citizens to economics is more important than ever with the current financial meltdown. Turn on television and every other news story is about the economy. The average American doesn’t understand how the country’s economic system works, say the television pundits. Calls to educate our citizens can be heard across the nation. Fortunately South Carolina is ahead of the game with economics mandated to be taught at each grade level beginning in kindergarten. To support the implementation of economics in the Social Studies academic standards, SCCEE, in partnership with the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Charlotte Branch, sponsors the annual art contest. Aimed at students in grades K-8, the Economic Concepts Poster Contest asks participants to illustrate one of six economic concepts—Scarcity, Productive Resources, Opportunity Cost, Specialization and Trade, Producers and Consumers or Goods and Services. And, all the children need to compete are drawing paper, crayons or colored pencils, and a whole lot of imagination. These “simple” requirements open the contest to all South Carolina students not just the ones who are lucky enough to have computers with fancy art software in their classrooms. In addition, the contest is a cost effective learning tool;

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Chelsea Felder receives her savings bond from Yolanda Ferguson of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.

something very important at a time when district superintendents and school principals are agonizing over what to cut from their budgets while still trying to maintain quality education for their students.

Concepts Calendar. Along with having their work published in this colorful 16-month calendar, the winning students take home a $50 U.S. savings bond presented at SCCEE’s annual awards luncheon in May by a representative from the Federal Reserve Bank.

The Economic Concepts Poster SCCEE’s partner, the Federal Contest was created as a way Reserve, understands the imfor students to have fun with “Economics touches on topics that stuportance of educating the naeconomics while reviewing tion’s future consumers, savers economic ideas and principles dents are already aware of, but may and investors. Matthew Martin, found in the social studies stansenior vice president and Chardards. For teachers it’s a great not know a specifi c name for, such as lotte Regional executive for way to stimulate interest in the Federal Reserve Bank of learning basic economic congoods and services,” says Shusky. Richmond, said, “It’s become cepts; to use economics to remore apparent than ever that inforce history, math, language the earlier we teach students arts and other subjects; and to about personal finance and how give students an opportunity to economics works in our country and around the globe, the more creatively demonstrate their understanding of economic issues. successful they will be. The eagerness of students to participate Last year, forty teachers in reading, math, social studies, art and each year in the contest clearly shows they want to learn about other subjects submitted 523 student drawings. From each year’s economics even in elementary and middle school.” entries, 16 drawings are selected for publication in the Economic

40 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • SPRING 2009


Chelsea Felder’s artwork won a place in the 2008-2009 Economic Concepts Calendar.

With their entries, these elementary and middle school students show how an economic concept that sounds complicated is part of their everyday lives. Defining the concept of “Scarcity,” one student last year drew a picture illustrating the effects of the drought plaguing the state. Another student depicting the concept of “Producers and Consumers” created a picture of the old fashion lemonade stand with the owner selling her product to her friends. Students are able to connect these “big ideas” with their own lives. “Economics touches on topics that students are already aware of, but may not know a specific name for, such as goods and services,” says Shusky. “I have taught lessons on economics in my art classroom now for four years and each year the students get excited about the program and the fact that their artwork could be placed into a calendar. It is very rare to be able to display a student’s artwork to such a wide audience. I will continue to use the contest as a teaching tool as long as it continues to be in place.” One of Shusky’s students, Chelsea Felder, had her drawing featured in the 2008-2009 Economic Concepts Calendar. Teaching students about economics and its impact on their lives is a long process. But the earlier that education starts the better, and SCCEE is there to help.

“Our goal is to help young people learn an economic way of thinking and it’s very rewarding to see that students are catching on to these important concepts,” says SCCEE President Helen Meyers. The Economic Concepts Poster Contest and Calendar are the first step to molding that economic way of thinking.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michele Reap Columbia, SC 29206 803/782-7442 803/238-9949 (cell) As Communications Coordinator for the SC Council on Economic Education, Ms. Reap handles publicity and promotion for the Council, oversees its Web site, and edits its publications.

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42 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • SPRING 2009


The Effectiveness of Voyager Reading Literacy Program on Reading Achievement By: Mattie Jackson Burroughs, Ph.D & Necati Engec, Ph.D.

Numerous research studies over the years have addressed the need for reading achievement. The most recent and demanding piece of legislation that has caused all states to look more closely at test results and interpretation of that data, is the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The NCLB Act signed into law by President George W. Bush on January 8, 2002 provides a component for improving students’ reading skills in the early grades (grades 1-3). The National Reading Panel (2000) was assigned the task of researching scientific based reading instructions to ensure that “every child” in third grade in “all American schools” would be able to read by the third grade. Much attention has been given to approaches for teaching reading skills in early grades or failing to start. Reading researchers devote more effort on prevention and early intervention reading techniques as a means of combating reading difficulty thus causing reading disabilities (Coyne, Kame’enui, Simmons and Harn, 2004).

Some students learn to read without formal reading instructions while a large number of children need direct reading skills instruction (Hoffman et al., 2000 p. 13). According to these experts, skilled and strategic reading involves: (a) automatic decoding processes for word recognition, (b) fluency in reading of connected text, and (c) flexibility in adapting strategies to purpose and text characteristics. However, Hoffman et al. continue, students who learn to read without direct reading skills instruction may not go through these reading stages, but still develop as competent fluent readers.

According to Rasinski (2003, pp23-24), there is a return push of oral reading. Oral reading builds confidence, gives students a sense of community and belonging, helps show connections of spoken and written languages, strengthen decoding skills and fosters fluency.

The Voyager system is aligned with the requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) 2001. These requirements guided the overview in the National Reading Panel’s website:

Hoffman et al., (2000, p.4) describes the reading process as a method to develop independent readers. An independent reader is defined as one who is able to (a) apply skills and strategiesalphabetical and word recognition skills, use knowledge of the alphabetic code to achieve rapid word recognition in conjunction with word recognition skills and strategies to achieve fluency, (b) seek meaning through what is read, and (c) use the reflection process of engaged reading. Experts agree that reading is a process that should be taught to students. According to Hoffman et al. (pp. 5-6), reading development takes place in a series of steps that are not locked or fixed in progression. The steps are (a) emergent – interaction of print and sound – deleting, adding, and blending sounds, (b) early – recognize words such as name, mom, and dad. Children discover that letters and associated sounds are helpful clues in reading unfamiliar words, (c) fluency – use the knowledge of oral language, alphabetic knowledge and other language cue systems, (d) flexibility – uses reading as a tool and is able to adapt reading strategies to different purposes, and (e) independent – student is in control, continues to develop and refine but does not depend on others for reading instructions.

The Voyager Reading Literacy Program provides collaboration and partnership to help ensure reading success. Literacy coaches communicate with teachers in order to introduce people, materials, and research-based strategies into the school to ensure that students become grade level readers (Thompson, 2004).

The National Reading Panel chose research from approximately 100,000 studies published since 1966 and another 15,000 published before 1966. The panel directed their attention on the following areas: (a) Alphabetics (phonemic awareness and phonics instructions) (b) reading fluency (c) reading comprehension (d) teacher education, and (e) computer technology. Since phonemic awareness is often confused with phonics, which is the association of a sound with a letter of the alphabet, the panel clarifies phonemic awareness. Phonemic awareness is the number of individual sounds in a word. One observation of the Reading Panel was that children enter school at different levels of cognitive development. Therefore, they offered no specific technique for teaching phonics, but recommended that teachers receive training in various techniques in order to meet the specific needs of all children The panel determined that guided oral reading was a necessary component because it provides students with the opportunity to read orally and receive feedback. During this process, the student reads to a teacher, another student, or some other adult and is able to build sight vocabulary.

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On the other hand, the panel decided that silent reading should be done in conjunction with other reading techniques in order to develop reading fluency. It was further stated that silent reading does make sense within the reading process, but no studies existed that showed that independent silent reading significantly improves reading skills.

The purposes of this study are to examine the effects of Voyager Literacy instruction on reading achievement of third grade students in the Richmond County school system and to determine the extent to which effectiveness of Voyager is influenced by the socioeconomic status and ethnicity of the student population. Literature Review

The panel reviewed studies in three areas that they identified as important to reading comprehension: (a) vocabulary development, (b) text comprehension instruction, and (c) teacher preparation and comprehension strategies instruction.

In recent years, educators have been faced with the task of selecting the best methods to teach reading to young children. Realizing that children start out at different levels or stages of development, selecting the one best method of teaching reading has become controversial (Tompkins, 2006). According to Tompkins, “On one side are the proponents of a skills-based or phonics approach; on the other side are advocates of a holistic approach. Teachers, favoring each side cite research to support their views, and state legislatures have joined the debate by mandating systematic, intensive phonics instruction in the primary grades (p. 24).”

The best method or combination of methods for teaching vocabulary has not been identified. But, the panel identified several important implications to use when teaching reading. First, vocabulary should be extracted from the text as well as taught indirectly whenever words are encountered in the text. Repetition and repeated exposure to vocabulary words and the use of computer technology will aid vocabulary development. The panel further contends that a combination of methods should be utilized by instructors rather than relying on one single method. Additionally, The National Reading Panel also determined that reading comprehension can be best taught by teaching students a variety of methods to aid in the comprehension process, such as formulating questions and summarizing information. These strategies help students recall information. The panel also decided that appropriate and intensive teacher training must be provided to ensure that they will be aware of when and how to teach a certain strategy. The existing research indicated that teacher training for both new and veteran teachers positively effect student achievement. However, research in this area is inadequate and is desperately needed. The final area that the panel examined was the use of computer technology. An adequate number of reliable studies were available to draw solid conclusions about teaching reading using technology. The research did suggest that reading instruction can be taught using technology. It was noted that although hypertexthighlighted text linked to definitions or related text may not be directly applicable to reading instructions; it might be used as a learning aid in reading instruction. Computers used as word processors may help students improve their reading skills because reading instruction is most effective when taught in conjunction with writing instructions. How much children actually read and the extent to which children are successful at reading is directly related to how they feel about reading (National Reading Panel, 2000). There are also negative influences that affect the attitudes of children towards reading (e.g. self concept, parents and home environment, achievement, instructional practice and special programs, test intelligence, gender, interest and socioeconomic factors (Alexander & Fuller, 1976). 44 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • SPRING 2009

Challenges in Closing the Reading Achievement Gap Teachers are no longer considered a coach or a trusted adult who will guide students through the reading process. They have been delegated the tasks of disaggregating and examining test data. They have taken on the role of an examiner and judge of stated standards and guidelines (Boomer, 2005). Gill (2005) contends that it is valuable to have different theoretical perspectives towards the teaching of reading. She further believes that “hiding differences behind labels cause theory to be abandoned” (p. 220). Gill adds that when theory is abandoned in favor of “eclectic” teaching, reflective knowledgeable teachers are abandoned and replaced by “best practice technicians” (p. 220). “Even though, we live in an era of scientifically proven methods of reading instructions, we have allowed politicians and the media to keep our field from developing as a science (p. 219).” Kame’enui & Simmons (1998) explained that reading is a necessary skill that is needed in order to excel in other disciplines as well as provide needed personal, social, and economical outcomes. They further explained that poor reading or the inability to read has contributed to school dropouts, incarcerations, need for public assistance, and not being successful in general. Morris (2001) describes the Farragut Elementary School as one of exceptional quality. The school’s population is predominantly black. Yet, achievement is high and there is extraordinary parental involvement and participation. The students at Farragut are known to have high attendance rates and perform at a higher level of achievement, as measured on standardized test, than other St. Louis public schools that include the magnet school. The majority of the students at Farragut eat free breakfast and lunch. The faculty is made up of 95 percent African Americans who have a long tenure at the school.


The school administration is often involved in community activities and will do whatever it takes to ensure the students’ success. The principal also shows genuine concern for the staff, students, and parents alike. According to Morris, a positive school and community involvement can positively impact the educational outcome of African American students. He further states that: We know that race alone does not automatically mean that communal bonding will occur; educators also have to understand the students’ and their families’ socioeconomic status. Never the less, when such bonds are evident, what are the consequences for academic outcomes? (p. 233). Culp, A., Hubbs-Tait, L., & Culp, R. (2002) conducted a study for the purpose of determining factors that promote school readiness and competence in Head Start children. One hundred fourteen Head Start children and their caregivers participated in the study. Out of 114 participating caregivers, 111 were biological mothers, 2 were grandmothers and 1 was a stepmother; all ranged in age from 19-54. The children ranged in age from 4.01 to 4.99 on September first of their pre-kindergarten year in Head Start. The caregivers were of varied marital status and also of varied socioeconomic conditions. Eighty-three percent of these caregivers received some type of public assistance while 17% received no assistance. The educational background ranged from 37% no high school to 7% college graduates. The other 75% were distributed among 37% high school graduates, 12% vocational-technical graduates, and 26% had some college courses. The subjects were recruited in the fall of the children’s prekindergarten year and were administered the instruments in the spring of the Head Start year and again during the kindergarten year. The researchers had the parents complete the Computer Presented Parenting Dilemma (CPPD) and the revised Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT-R). The students were given the PPVT-R and Head Start teachers were required to complete the California Preschool Social Competency Scale (CPSCS). The CPPD was the instrument to help the researchers determine the four dimensions of maternal parenting characteristics-warmth, intrusiveness, punitiveness, and parental involvement in school activities (parental involvement was not measured until the kindergarten year). The PPVT-R measured the cognitive ability of the subjects, with the factor of task mastery being the most relevant to this study. In the kindergarten year, the same instruments, along with the Mother Involvement Questionnaire for teachers (MIQT), were administered to the subjects. Early parental involvement was found to be important. Approaches to Teaching Reading Murphy (2004) examined the Language Vocabulary Acquisition (LVA) approach for teaching reading. This process begins by introducing students to a large number of sight words, use of a vocabulary word bank to expand vocabulary, phonological awareness, and reading fluency. The Bright Beginners Reading Book

along with writing notebooks and assessment books are used in this program. Students interact with their peers at the Think and Learn Station. Fifty percent of first graders taught reading with this program scored average or above average on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. The following year, thirty percent of these students scored in the average range and sixty percent scored in the above average range. Utilizing this program, the students’ third grade year proved to be successful, also. Although the class was taken over by a new teacher, students still scored in the average and above average range, while the other third grade class scored in the below average range. The Systematic Teaching and Recording Tactic (START) is an intervention approach, which can be used in conjunction with a curriculum-based program. The steps in this invention process are (a) students read aloud for one minute three times a week and the teacher determines the number of words read correctly (b) students read error words from the day before (c) teacher models reading, teacher and student read together, student reads along at the rate of the teacher, and comprehension checked, and (d) isolated word practice of words missed on a particular day. The final approach to reading is Technology-Based Instruction. This approach will be found in many classrooms of the 21st century. The technology of today offer programs such as “talking” books, interactive writing vocabulary activities, and word identification. Students can also interact with others and construct their own writings over the internet. Word processing programs enable students to create their own text and improve their writing by using the spelling and grammar tools within the program. Voyager as a Reading Instructional Approach Voyager Universal Literacy website (2002) reported the results of a study in Orange County Florida that used 108 kindergarten students. The subjects were from low socioeconomic background. Fifty- eight students in the experimental group were taught reading by voyager instructions, and fifty students in the control group were taught reading using the Houghton Mifflin series. Students were pre and post tested on the areas of (a) word identification (b) word analysis (c) spelling (d) letter name knowledge (e) letter sound knowledge (f) print concepts (g) phonological awareness (h) phonological awareness segmenting (i) phonological awareness-blending (j) expressive vocabulary (k) and Rapid Automated Naming (RAN). The results of the study suggested that Voyager students showed superior performance on word analysis, letter sound knowledge, print concepts, phonemic segmentation, and phonemic blending tasks. The control group did not score significantly higher than Voyager students on any measure. Roberts (2002) supported the premise that Voyager instructions positively impacted reading achievements in ninetysix schools in Birmingham, Alabama, Orange County (Orlando) Florida, Richmond County (Augusta) Georgia, and Richmond Virginia. Struggling kindergarteners declined by fifty percent, emerging

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kindergarteners showed a slight decline, and established readers increased by sixteen percent. Out of the 3,301 first graders tested in the report, the percentage of struggling readers dropped from thirty-five to twelve per cent, while the emerging readers dropped from thirty-seven to twenty-six percent. The percentage of established readers increased from twenty-eight to sixty-two percent. (p.4). Moreover, Roberts (2002) found that a sample consisting of twelve kindergarten and first grade classes that implemented Voyager instructions from a middle to high degree showed a larger gain in pre and post test percentile rank scores on the Woodcock Johnson Diagnostic Reading Battery. Roberts (2003) gathered data from 291 schools across the United States. These schools used the Vital Indicators of Progress (VIP) four times per year to monitor student progress against early literacy benchmarks to identify struggling readers. The subjects were first graders; some had received Voyager instructions in kindergarten and others had not received Voyager instructions. When Oral Reading Fluency (ORF) test scores were compared, students on track gained about 28 points from the second benchmark to the fourth benchmark. Emerging students improved by about 14.5 to 15 words per benchmark, ending with 45.2 to 47.4words. Struggling students, which started out reading fewer than four words correctly, gained about 15.5 words per benchmark and ended with 33.7 to 35.7 words per minute. Students are considered to be on-track when they are able to read 40 words per minute at the administration of the fourth benchmark assessment. Methodology The intent in this study was to determine if the reading program, Voyager, significantly impacts reading achievement when that achievement was measured using a standardized test. Analyses were conducted using the test score reports of the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills (ITBS). Five elementary schools were chosen to be a part of this study. The schools chosen were selected by systematic sampling. An experimental group and a control group in each school were included in the study. The control was made up of third graders for the 2003-2004 school year and the experimental group was composed of third graders for the 2004-2005 school year. The purpose was to determine if there was a statistically significant difference in achievement between students of comparable demographic characteristics when they are taught using the reading instructional program Voyager and when they were taught through the traditional basal approach. Part of the analysis includes a comparison of students of different socioeconomic backgrounds and their achievement on norm-referenced tests.

selected as part of a majority district-wide effort to improve reading achievement in early grades. Staff development training was provided to the staffs of all of the schools involved in the experiment. Voyager Universal Literacy provided the training and materials. Permission was obtained from the system administrator to study the effects of the program implementation. The vocabulary and comprehension reading achievement of 381 third graders, in the experimental group, was compared to 475 third graders in the control group. For the purpose of this study, the experimental group, third graders for the 2004-2005 school year were compared to the control group, third graders for the 2003-2004 school year. The experimental group and the control group are both in the same schools. The enrollment for the third graders in the five schools included in the study may be found in Table 1.

The minority ethnic composition of the experimental group ranged from 40.5% to 96.2% minority as seen in Table 2 The minority ethnic composition of the control group ranged from 47.8% to 92.6%. The nonminority ethnic composition for the experimental group ranged from 3.8% to 54.4% and 3.7% to 50.7% for the control group.

The percentage of students within the school receiving free and reduced lunches was used as an indicator of socioeconomic status. The percentage of students eligible for free and reduce lunch range from 23.6% to 90.4% for the experimental group and 37.5% to 87.7% for the control group as seen Table 3.

Additionally, student performance was also analyzed for significance of difference in reading achievement based on nonminority-minority race enrollment. Sample The subjects in this study were students in five systematically selected schools. The students in the experimental group were

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Findings: An independent t-test was conducted to evaluate that there is a significant difference in the reading vocabulary of students taught reading by voyager instructions as opposed to students taught reading by traditional reading instructions. As seen in the Table 4, the test was significant (t=2.33, df=854, p= 0.020). Students that received voyager instructions (Mean=183.39, Std=53) on the average scored higher than those not receiving voyager instruction (Mean=177.31, Std=18.58). There is a significant difference between voyager students and non voyager students. Voyager students scored significantly better than the Non-Voyager students. An independent t-test was conducted to evaluate that there is a significant difference in the reading comprehension of students taught reading by voyager instructions as opposed to students taught reading by traditional reading instructions. As seen in Table 5, the test was not significant (t=1.07, df=854, p=.284). Students that received voyager instructions (Mean=185.07, Std=21.30) showed no significant difference in reading comprehension when compared to those not receiving voyager instruction (Mean=183.47, Std=21.85). There is no significant difference between voyager students and non voyager students. Effects of Voyager and Ethnicity on Achievement The two-way ANOVA was conducted to determine the significance of race on reading vocabulary scores for the Voyager and Non-Voyager groups. There was no significance between the two groups. The analysis revealed that the probability p= .114 is not significant at the .05 level. The analysis also revealed that there was no significance among groups and race or ethnicity, p= .686 is not significant at the .05 level. When race/ethnicity was analyzed, it was found that there was no significant difference among the races/ ethnicity. See Table The two-way ANOVA was conducted to determine the significance of race on reading comprehension scores for the Voyager and Non-Voyager groups. There was no significance between the two groups. The analysis revealed that the probability p= .132 is not significant at the .05 level. The analysis also revealed that there was no significance among groups and race or ethnicity, p= .4 is not significant at the .05 level. When race/ ethnicity was analyzed, it was found that there was a significant

difference among the races/ethnicity. The probability, p=.000 was significant at the .05 level. See Table 7.

As a result of the strong level of significance among the races, Post Hoc Tests of Multiple Comparisons with the dependent variable, comprehension, were performed. The comparison of comprehension scores for ethnicity showed that the mean difference between blacks (minority) and whites (non-minority) was -7.1068 and the probability was .000. The difference between black and white reading comprehension scores was significant at the .05 level. The mean difference between blacks (minority) and others (minority) was -9.1637 and the probability was .001. The difference is significant at the .05 level. The mean differ-

ence for reading comprehension for whites (non-minority) and others (minority) was -2.0569 and the probability was .727. The difference is not significant at the .05 level. See Table 8.

The two-way ANOVA was conducted to determine the significance of socioeconomic level on reading vocabulary scores for Continued On 68

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Teachers and Students, Like Crayons, Come in All Colors Strategies for Diversifying the Teaching Force Dr. Sonia Cunningham Leverette

The Problem The issue of the growing teacher shortage is not a new one. While student enrollments are rising, the National Education Association Today reports that more than a million teachers are nearing retirement (n.d). The field of education has one of the highest attrition rates of any profession, and new teachers are more apt to exit to leave. And while the number of teachers is diminishing, entry into the profession is more difficult (Heller, 2004). Experts predict that more than 2 million new teachers will be needed in the next decade. This teacher recruitment problem, which has reached startling proportions in some areas, is most critical for subject areas such as special education, math and science, and for teachers of color (NEA, n.d.). America’s schools are not only experiencing a shortage of teachers, but the growth of minority student enrollment is creating a significant need for minority teachers to provide positive role models for the students. While more than one third of students in public schools are of color, they

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are taught by mostly all-white teachers. The U. S. Department of Commerce predicts that by 2025, at least half of public school students will be of color. Already, forty percent of schools across the country have no teachers of color. Yet, the U. S. Department of Education has revealed that of the more than 50 million children enrolled in elementary and secondary schools, one in every five has a parent who was born abroad (NEA, 2002). A recent study by the Florida Department of Education points out that Black students are twice as likely to be placed into the state’s mentally handicapped and emotionally/behaviorally disabled categories of exceptional student education (Conner, 2008). Research shows that when teachers of color are present, students are less likely to be overrepresented in special education classes, have lower absentee rates and become more involved in school activities (NEA, 2002). In contrast to the data mentioned above, state data show that disabilities that are medically diagnosed, including visual and or-


thopedic impairments, reflect the racial and ethnic composition of the population as a whole (Conner, 2008). Although half of the student population in Jacksonville is black, only 14 percent of students identified as gifted are black. Unfortunately, other cities across the country have statistics that resemble these. A staff’s ability to relate to a diverse student body and increase parental involvement is less likely when there is a lack of minority teachers. Generally speaking, teachers of color possess an understanding of the backgrounds, attitudes, and experiences of students from their respective groups (NEA, 2002). Many reasons are given for the shortage of minority teachers. Of course the low pay and status (in comparison to other professions requiring similar credentials) are two of those reasons, but business and industry aggressively seeking to diversify their workforces lessens the number of teacher applicants (NEA, 2002). Negative perceptions of the educational system are also to blame. Schools that employ minority custodians, food service operatives and bus drivers, yet staff no minority teachers communicate that students of color can only return if they are willing to serve in one of these roles. Dr. June A. Gordon, in The Color of Teaching, writes that in some cases, the attractiveness of a career in teaching is a smaller impediment than the lack of success in schooling that limits teaching as a career option (2000). According to CERRA, teachers of color constituted 20.2% of the new hires in South Carolina in 2006 (1663 of the 8101). This was up from 2003 to 2005, and it indicates that there is hope and the possibility for these numbers to continue to increase. Practical Strategies In a National Education Association Today article entitled, “The Disappearing Minority Teacher,” Mildred Hudson, CEO of Recruiting New Teachers, affirms that it is possible for a student to complete twelve years of public school and never have a minority teacher (2002). This translates into at least 40% of students never having a teacher of color (Monster, 2008). While minority recruitment has its challenges nationwide, several practical strategies for districts sincerely interested in increasing the number of minority teachers hired and retained can be implemented. If minority candidates are desired, they should be made to feel comfortable in interview settings and in our school settings. Strong administrators are needed to support diversity, as it requires leaving the comfort zone. What happens when parents want a teacher other than the minority teacher because of his or her race, ethnicity, or religion? Or, what happens when teachers, who have not worked in diverse settings, are resistant to change? As the world becomes smaller, patience and tolerance must be practiced when dialoguing with speakers of English as a second language. If districts would make sincere efforts to hire qualified minorities

when given the opportunity to do so each year, the face of schools would begin to change. Minorities are attracted to districts and schools where they believe diversity is valued, and where minorities are represented within school and district teams. If they plan to seek leadership opportunities in the future, how successful will they be in their quests? When the importance of hiring minorities is devalued, children lose. And, minorities are needed in all schools, not just in schools with large populations of minority students. One South Carolina school district employed a strategy to assist Induction Teachers who were not successful when taking the Principles of Learning and Teaching Exam (PLT), a requirement for initial certification. The administrators asked teachers who scored “exemplary” on the exam to tutor those who had not passed the exam. Over the course of a year, all of the teachers were successful. This strategy could be used to tutor teachers who struggle to pass the content areas. A potential teacher’s inability to initially pass a test does not automatically imply that a teacher does not have the aptitude to pass the test. There may be intervening factors such as poor preparation from high schools or colleges they have attended, test anxiety or even test biases. Districts who are willing to go the extra mile to provide assistance and to encourage unsuccessful test takers may find themselves with a new pool of candidates. There is no direct correlation between teachers’ personal exam scores and their performance in the classroom. A good teacher could be lost because of his or her inability to meet a minimum test score. Another strategy that districts can employ is that of assisting teaching assistants, clerical workers, bus drivers, food service workers, custodians and maintenance workers who desire to become educators to reach their dream. Because these candidates have experience working with students and have already decided to remain in the profession, their success rates are likely to be higher than those who choose to become teachers at the beginning of their careers. They are older, more mature, more settled and often more dedicated. Whether it is through forming a support group for these future teacher candidates, paying their college material, lab and book fees or paying for a percentage of their tuition, numerous districts have latched on to the idea of “growing your own.” Fortunately, there are organizations seeking remedies for the shortage of minorities and are making efforts to provide solutions. In our state, the Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention and Advancement (CERRA) is to be applauded for its attention to the need for diversity recruitment. CERRA is committed to increasing the overall 17.5% of minority teachers in the state. These strategies include increasing the number of Teacher Cadets to reflect the racial composition of the schools they attend, expanding pre-collegiate programs, providing information about financial assistance for college, partnering with the South Carolina

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Program for the Recruitment and Retention of Minority Teachers, and partnering with Call Me MISTER. These strategies certainly provide a starting place for districts interested in hiring more minorities (www.CERRA.org). A national effort to boost the number of minority teachers in urban and rural communities is the partnership between the Tom Joyner Foundation and the National Education Association. Joyner, a nationally syndicated radio personality and philanthropist, announced that this partnership will distribute more than $700,000 to encourage minority teachers to complete their certification and teach for a minimum of three years (NEA, 2005). Similarly, there are numerous organizations geared toward assisting minorities of other races to become teachers, such as National Alliance of Black School Educators, Latino Teacher Project, NEA Black Caucus High School Teacher Program, NEA’s Recruitment and Retention of Educators (RRE) Program, Recruiting New Teachers, National Association for Multicultural Education and The Alliance for Equity in Higher Education (NEA, 2002). Diversity Valued In We Can’t Teach What We Don’t Know: White Teachers, Multiracial Schools, author Gary Howard declares that diversity is not a choice, but how we respond to it certainly is (NEA, 2002). The nation’s K-12 students are seeing an ever-increasing mix of races among their peers. Thus, there 52 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • SPRING 2009

is work to be done. Because there is a shortage of minority teachers, districts should not feel they are excused from attempts to recruit them. There is a shortage of teachers in general, but that does not lessen the need. LaShay Roberts, President of the Student California Teachers Association, knows the advantages of staffing a diverse group. According to her, teachers of color can help instill a tolerance of others into tomorrow’s leaders. Because life is not all white, all schools should reflect diversity. With a diverse teacher workforce, students learn early how to flourish in a multicultural environment (NEA, 2002). In the same way, minority teachers are needed, for the benefits of hiring minority teachers are significant. Some benefits of hiring minorities are as follows: When minorities are denied opportunities, everyone loses. Not only do minority students gain from having role models who resemble them in the classroom, but all students gain. Because our world is so diverse, students’ experiences are enriched when they become acquainted with and exposed to people from various cultures. They learn that others think, live, eat, interact, and engage in different activities. Then, they become adults who understand that differences are ac-


ceptable. Learning about different people through literature is a far cry from forming actual relationships with people of other races. Thus, efforts should begin in schools where there are one, two or no minority teachers. Unfortunately, we are all impacted by the harmful results of stereotypes. Children are perceptive and know when a teacher has a low opinion of them. Because of their young mindsets, children often lock down rather than achieving their best. And they can only grow so far when teachers limit or dilute lessons, believing students are incapable of learning challenging material. High expectations are sometimes less common for students of minority races when they are taught by teachers of a majority race. Diversity training can thwart these notions. According to Ruby Payne, author of A Framework for Understanding Poverty, professional development on teacher and student relations is necessary to move teachers from a formal registry to a casual registry (1996). Rather than face them, some educators tend to shy away from such issues. But how can any social ill improve if there is no discussion of the topic, and it is simply ignored? Honestly discussing diversity is taboo in far too many educational settings. Frequently, when diversity is discussed, it is discussed in a pessimistic light, supported by research indicative of the achievement gap. If the only discussions about diversity are of the achievement gap, then there is no wonder the achievement gap is so significant. Lastly, educators who are willing and enthused about the education of all students, regardless of a student’s appearance, background, religion or race, are precious commodities. Schools and communities are dependent upon these educators. Educators must gain knowledge of strategies for instructing students of diverse backgrounds, as well as develop an appreciation for students’ backgrounds and students themselves. Our world is swiftly changing, and those who attempt to ignore diversity will be left behind. We must remove the attitude that diversity is a problem (because it will never go away) and replace it with the idea that diversity is an asset. Let us teach students that teachers, like students and crayons, come in all colors.

Risk Students Will Help Disproportionality. Florida TimesUnion Online. Retrieved June 7, 2008, from http://cgi.jacksonville.com/cgi-bin/printit.cgi?story=ZZNOSTORYZZ The Disappearing Minority Teacher. (May 2001). National Education Association Today. Retrieved June 12, 2008 from http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3617/is_200105/ai_ n8933808 Gordon, J. A. (2000). The Color of Teaching. Abingdon: Taylor and Francis. Heller, D. A. (2004) Teachers Wanted: Attracting and Retaining Good Teachers Alexandria: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Howard, G.. (1999) We Can’t Teach What We Don’t Know: White Teachers, Multiracial Schools New York: Teachers College. Monster. (n.d.) The Diversity Crisis in Teaching. Retrieved May 27, 2008, from http://featuredreports.philly.monster. com/teacher/diversity/ Tom Joyner Foundation Partners with National Education Association. (2005, January 3) National Education Association Today. Retrieved June 8, 2008 from http://www.nea.org/ newsreleases/2008/nr080204.html Tomorrow’s Teachers: Help Wanted: Minority Teachers. (2002). National Education Association Today. Retrieved June 10, 2008, from http://www.nea.org/tomorrowsteachers/2002/helpwanted.html Payne, Ruby K. (2001). A Framework for Understanding Poverty. Highland: aha!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. Sonia Cunningham Leverette

References Attracting and Keeping Quality Teachers. (2002). National Education Association Today. Retrieved June 5, 2008, from http://www.nea.org/teachershortage/index/ html?mode=print Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention and Advancement. (2007) 2006-2007 Annual Report. Retrieved June 1, 2008, from http://www.cerra.org/pr/annualreports/FY0607AnnualReport.pdf Conner, D. (2008, June 2). Minorities Overrepresented in Special Education Classes: Programs Implemented for At-

Anderson, SC 29621 • 864-222-9535 • bjclsmc@charter.net Bachelor of Arts in Secondary Education (English), Clemson University, 1991; Master of Education Degree in Secondary Education (English), Clemson University, 1993; Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership, South Carolina State University, 2004 Dr. Leverette is Director of Personnel Services in Anderson School District Five. She has served as English Teacher, Assistant Principal and Curriculum Coordinator.

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Berkeley County Jump Starts Its Junior Scholars Berkeley County’s creation of a two-week summer institute for its Junior Scholars is breaking boundaries and propelling students into high school ready to go. By: Merrie S. Fisher

As a visitor to Berkeley County School District’s 2008 Junior Scholars Acceleration Institute, one would have witnessed students in the Early Berkeley History class excitedly examining plats of local property in the 1700’s while students next door listened to 60’s music as they wrote “Beatnik” poetry in the Creative Writing class. Down the hall, Spanish Immersion students hummed along to salsa music and chatted in Spanish, Leadership and Character participants worked together to solve problems in a society simulation, and saws whirred as students in the Sea Perch class cut PVC pipe to build underwater robots.

the exception in our summer program. The institute also required the teachers to plan high quality challenging lessons for a group of students so eager to learn. The teachers were like an ocean of knowledge, and the students were giant sponges soaking up all they had to offer. ”

In Spring 2007, Berkeley County’s administrators explored ideas of how to support the district’s highest achieving students as they started high school. It was decided that early investment in challenging academic summer experiences for these students would help to secure the success that district administrators sought for each of the students. Courses were planned in the areas named above, as well as Special Topics in Linear Algebra, The Physics of Toys, and Gateway to Technology. Instructors, who were among the best in their fields, joined ranks to promote the academic success of these young scholars. “The Junior Scholars Institute is enriching our next generation of leaders by giving them the best chance to succeed. As an instructor in the program, I developed a greater respect for the maturity of our young people to problem solve, to work around boundaries, to value creativity, and to inspire one another to ethical and responsible citizenship,” stated Dr. Jean Chandler.

A delegation of second-year students spoke to district leaders at the closing ceremony this summer about their desire to return again next year for further studies. One student told the program organizers how inspiring it felt to work among other students who were equally excited about learning. Spurred by the outcome of the first two years of this program, Merrie Fisher, the district’s Coordinator of Gifted Programs, and Laurie Stafford, the Junior Scholars Institute Site Director, already have plans underway for a College Day to be included in next year’s program. Students and their parents will receive scholarship and financial aid information, as well as talk with representatives from prominent universities about entrance requirements. These students appreciate the investment the district is making in their future. The jump start is making a difference.

The initial institute in 2007 had 40 registrants. Surprise results to a survey at the close of the institute showed that participants requested to attend a second year. In 2008, fifty students registered for the two-week summer institute, with 63% of the original Junior Scholars returning for a second round to additional classes newly developed for them. One such class was Sea Perch, a hands-on marine engineering program developed by MIT that teaches students problem solving and engineering concepts. What was originally planned as a one-year experience has become a work in progress to include college planning, leadership development, parent information sessions, SAT preparation, and a service component, as well as challenging content. Archie Franchini, Deputy Superintendent for Learning Services, affirmed, “The Junior Scholars Institute challenged our students to stretch their minds in a non-traditional learning environment. Development of higher order thinking skills was the norm and not

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Merrie S. Fisher Berkeley County School District Moncks Corner, SC 29461 (843) 899-8640 Merrie Fisher, the Berkeley GT Coordinator, is a SC Consortium of Gifted Education Board Member, Library of Congress Fellow, and National Board Certified Teacher.

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The Foundation of Student Success: Building Positive Relationships with Students By: Kimberly Scott

As educators, we are constantly searching for new programs or techniques that will help our students excel in academics. Educators are historically known for implementing the most current programs, only to abandon them as soon as the “new improved” model arrives on the educational scene. Unfortunately, we forget that the strongest foundation we can create for student success is deeply rooted in establishing positive relationships with our students. All too often, educators act as drill sergeants during the first week of school, treating students as if they are in “boot camp.” In fact, you don’t have to be in the presence of educators too very long before you hear someone say, “Don’t smile until Christmas.” While it is critical to teach students the correct procedures to follow, we must not forget the importance of establishing positive relationships with our students from day one of the school year.

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As administrators, it is our responsibility to help teachers realize the importance of these positive relationships and lead the way for our schools to focus on student success through the power of positive relationships. Every year during our first faculty meeting, I ask teachers to think about the kind of teacher they want their own children to have. Then, I ask them to ponder upon themselves as a teacher and to honestly answer the question, “Am I the kind of teacher I want my own children to have?” As educators, we will develop strong relationships with our students if we treat our students as we treat our own children. In fact, they are actually our children during the day and we hold in our hands the opportunity to make or break a child’s spirit. The benefits and results of building positive relationships are outstanding! Students actually enjoy coming to school because they have a sense of belonging and feel they are a vital part of


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their school community. They develop a powerful desire to please their teachers by doing well academically. Attendance rates dramatically climb while discipline referrals plummet. Ultimately, sustained academic improvement occurs for all students. Two valuable resources to use in changing the culture of your school where positive relationships are high on the totem pole are A Framework For Understanding Poverty by Ruby Payne and What Great Teachers Do Differently by Todd Whitaker. Both of these books serve as powerful references to facilitate conversations in learning communities about the impact of building positive relationships with students. As administrators, we can use the following ideas to generate positive relationships with our students. Just a few suggestions are listed below. •

• • • • • •

Model how the students should treat their classmates by allowing them to see you engage in positive interactions with faculty, staff, parents, and students. Be visible during school dismissal to talk with students. You will be amazed at the number of students who will start conversations with you. When talking with students, kneel down so that you can make eye contact with the students when talking and listening to them. During lunch, visit with students at their table and get to know the students by name. Seek out opportunities to encourage them to do their personal best. De-escalate problems among students in a positive manner. Never put students in a challenging situation in front of their peers. Build your students up and constantly tell them how glad you are to have them in your school. Listen to students and seek to understand them.

Your entire school community will reap great rewards when positive relationships are highly valued and established. Most importantly, great academic gains will be made by all students and they will become productive citizens in your school community.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kimberly Scott Lake View, SC 29563 • 843-250-8940 Kimberly Scott, in her fifth year as principal, has lead Lake View Elementary in winning the Palmetto Gold, Palmetto Silver, and Red Carpet School Awards.

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Does That Shirt Fade When You Wash It? From “Death by Bookbag: A Collection of Middle School Stories” By: Merry L. Cox

Sometimes, opportunity comes in many colors. There was a new kid at school named Donald. He was as wild as they come – had a temper like nobody’s business. He had moments of calm and goodness, but they were few and far between. He was in a special class for kids who had similar emotional problems, and he had really come a long way. One thing I remember about Donald (other than his temper) was that he had some FINE clothes. You hear me? FINE clothes. His shirts were always perfectly pressed, his jeans never had a wrinkle and you could hurt yourself if you touched the crease in his jeans. His clothes always matched perfectly – dark blue jeans, shirts with dark blue in them; light-colored jeans, chambray shirts; black pants with beautiful black print shirts. He was just a sharp dresser. One day, his temper got the best of him, and he was in my office after getting in a fight. Usually, after a while, he could get his temper back under control, but it took lots of work. On this particular day, he was very angry and was having trouble getting back. He was sitting in the chair in my office with his hands on either side of his head, rocking back and forth, repeating, “I’m gonna kill him. I mean it. I’m gonna kill him.” It looked as if he was literally trying to keep his brains from exploding out of his head from the anger. The fight was really not a big deal, and I knew he was not going to get out of my office to go kill anyone (I need this job too much to let anyone do that…), but with his emotional problems, it was taking him longer to realize that it was not a big deal. Now, mind you, there was so much starch in his clothes that, even after a fight, there were no wrinkles! He had on new dark baggy pants and a beautiful new dark blue and kelly-green denim shirt. As he was rocking back and forth muttering to himself, I was thinking about that shirt. I was thinking about how his mom washed it without the dark colors running together and making it a dull color of “yuk.” Nothing I had tried to calm him was working, so I decided to try a new tactic. “Donald, I know you are really mad and all that, but can I ask you a question?”

“Yeah – I really like that shirt, and I was thinking that whenever I wash things that are that dark and new, they seem to fade together. Does your Mom use cold water to wash that, or do you get it drycleaned?” “I’m gonna… I don’t know!” Now, his hands were off his head, and he looked at me like I was the stupidest woman he had ever seen, and that he could not believe I was talking with him about his laundry. “Oh, well. I don’t want to stop you from what you were doing, but if you think about it, when you put that shirt in the dirty clothes tonight, will you ask your mom? I am tired of ruining some of my clothes.” “OK – I mean, maybe.” “Donald, do you think you are calm enough now to talk with me about the fight?” Then he realized what had happened – I had gotten him to calm down without arguing with him or yelling at him or threatening him with suspension or anything. We talked about the fight, we talked about other options for this anger that he had, and I reminded him about what happens when kids fight in school. He was fine. No one was killed (thankfully!), and the laundry idea has worked on other occasions as well. The only thing I’m not sure about is how his mom washed that shirt without the colors fading…

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Merry L. Cox League Academy of Communication Arts Greenville, SC 29609 • 864. 355. 8110 mcox@greenville.k12.sc.us

“I’m gonna kill him… what?” “Does that shirt fade when you wash it?” “I’m gonna kill him, I mean it. HUH?” “I know you are still mad, but really – does that shirt fade when you wash it? “This shirt?” By now, he had stopped rocking and was staring at me with a crazy look on his face. 60 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • SPRING 2009

Everyone needs a little humor to help ensure Student Achievement and School Success! Here is one way that I tried to diffuse a situation with a touch of humor. Middle School is my chosen career: 8 years as principal, 13 – assistant principal, and 6 – teacher. “Death by Bookbag: A Collection of Middle School Stories” was published in 1998


Disciplining Students for Off-Campus Cyber Speech: A First Amendment Review By: Jesulon S. R. Gibbs, J.D., Ph.D.

H

ow would you respond to a student who used his personal home computer to create a website with mock obituaries and encouraged viewers to vote on which of his friends should die next, i.e. be the topic of the next mock obituary? What policies and doctrines would guide your decision-making process? You probably would be tempted to respond as the principal in this case did and suspend the student. However, maybe even surprisingly to you, the student successfully challenged the suspension in court. Why? The short answer, the discipline violated the student’s free speech rights as guaranteed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. School administrators across the nation have experienced such legal

challenges when disciplining students for Internet postings made at home or at other off-campus vicinities. Tension ensues when parents and students disagree with punishment for speech uttered via Internet connections in the privacy of a student’s home or in some venue away from campus (Hudson, 2008). Consequently, parents and students have, more so than not, successfully claimed that First Amendment violations occur when school officials attempt to regulate student speech that has occurred off-campus in cyberspace. As such, the revolution of technology presents new legal issues for educators that do not easily align with earlier legal precedence or older educational policies. Such controversies have caused courts, school law scholars, attorneys, educational administrators and other educational policymakers to re-examine students’ rights to freedom of

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expression so as to reach a constitutionally sound resolution in this fresh area of inquiry – off-campus cyber speech. Given the tough demands on school administrators in the age of accountability, it is easy for administrators to overlook students’ free speech rights, or not even realize when situations call into question such rights, when faced with having to respond to a parental and/or student complaint about a demeaning portrayal of administrators, faculty, staff, and/or students. Such rights are diminished, but not demolished, within the four walls of school; however, the same is not true beyond the schoolhouse gates. As will be discussed, a student and/or parent that is willing to challenge such behavior may have adequate leverage. Therefore, as Zirkel (2000) notes, “In this era of strict accountability and zero tolerance, principals need to know where to draw the line.” This is an update for school administrators on recent developments pertaining to disciplining students for speech that they (students) have engaged in away from school in cyberspace. This is only a brief undertaking on this burgeoning area of school law and should not be taken as legal advice. Specific questions and concerns should be directed to the school district’s attorney. However, this is the sort of professional inquiry educational administrators must engage in to make sound educational policies and decisions in order to avoid such problems. Upon reading this, school administrators should: recognize that student off-campus cyber speech is a growing but unsettled First Amendment issue; understand the actual off-campus cyber speech dilemma; and recognize the fundamental principles that govern such situations. To accomplish this, the next section highlights two examples of off-campus cyber speech cases to familiarize the reader with the sort of problem school administrators have faced. Then, a more detailed explanation of the student cyber speech paradox is discussed. The work concludes with a discussion on policy implications and future directions. EXAMPLES OF OFF-CAMPUS CYBER SPEECH CASES Two cases are discussed in detail to illustrate the prototypical student cyber speech case and the difference in facts when the outcome was in favor of the student versus in favor of the school. Note, the majority of cyber speech cases have been resolved in favor of students, whether through the judicial system or out-of-court settlements. As will be elaborated in the next section, the difference in outcomes in Emmett v. Kent School District No. 415 (2000) versus J.S. v. Bethlehem Area School District (2002) is predicated on school officials demonstrating a nexus between the off-campus behavior and a substantial disruption in school operations beyond the mere fact that a student created a demeaning website about other members of the academic community. First, the cyber speech case mentioned in the opening of this article is that of Emmett. Senior Emmett created a webpage using his home computer. The webpage was titled the “Unofficial Kentlake

High Home Page;” however, the site included disclaimers alerting viewers that the site was not a school-sponsored forum and was for humor only. Emmett posted mock obituaries on the site and created a forum for visitors to vote who would die next, i.e. be the subject of upcoming obituaries. Emmett was inspired to create the site because of a school assignment where students wrote their own obituaries. A local news station stated that the site consisted of a hit list. Therefore, Emmett immediately discarded the site. Subsequently, Emmett was issued an emergency expulsion for “intimidation, harassment, disruption to the education process, and violation of Kent School District copyright” (p. 1089). The emergency expulsion was converted to a five-day suspension. According to the court, no evidence suggested that anyone in the academic community felt threatened by the site or that Emmett sought to threaten anyone. Emmett sought a temporary restraining order against the school for the suspension. Relying primarily upon the Tinker ruling, the court emphasized that: Web sites can be an early indication of a student’s violent inclinations and can spread those beliefs quickly to like-minded or susceptible people. The defendant, however, has presented no evidence that the mock obituaries and voting on this web site were intended to threaten anyone, did actually threaten anyone, or manifested any violent tendencies whatsoever. This lack of evidence, combined with the above findings regarding the outof-school nature of the speech, indicates that the plaintiff has a substantial likelihood of success on the merits of the claim (p. 1190). Therefore, the school was unable to discipline Emmett for his cyber speech, despite their common concern about hampering school violence. The second example is that of J.S. v. Bethlehem Area School District, where school officials successfully challenged a student’s complaint. As an eighth grader, J.S. created an Internet website, Teacher Sux, at home using his personal computer. The website was not affiliated with any school sponsored activity. The website contained “derogatory, profane, offensive and threatening comments” about a math teacher, Ms. Fulmer, and the school’s principal, Mr. Kartsotis. For example, the site stated that the principal was sexually involved with another principal and that the math teacher should be fired because of her physical appearance and demeanor. The teacher’s face was mounted to an image of Adolph Hitler and a witch’s costume, to name a few examples. The ultimate controversial page about the math teacher was the one entitled “Why Should She Die?” Here, J.S. listed reasons why Ms. Fulmer should die and solicited $20 to assist with the payment of a hitman. Even though J.S. included a non-disclosure disclaimer on the site as did Emmett, unlike Emmett, J.S. told other students about his website and accessed it at school to show a student. The principal

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learned of the site and contacted law enforcement officials because he considered the threats to be real. Ms. Fulmer became fearful and underwent numerous ailments. As a result of her medical complications, Ms. Fulmer did not complete the academic year and was granted medical leave for the following academic year. Three substitute teachers were relied upon to teach Fulmer’s classes. In addition, the principal believed that the website negatively affected overall school spirit and morale of both students and staff members. The court explained that the site “taken as a whole, was a sophomoric, crude, highly offensive and perhaps misguided attempt at humor or parody; however, it did not reflect a serious expression of intent to inflict harm” (p. 859). Also, the court pointed to the fact that school officials did not take action against J.S. until months after it learned of the site therefore diminishing the district’s argument of an actual threat. In addition to the nature of the speech, the court found a sufficient nexus between the speech and the school environment which was caused by J.S. The website was deemed to have disrupted teachers, students and parents, most notably Ms. Fulmer. Students were concerned about their safety and parents were concerned about the long-term substitute teachers. Therefore, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court was convinced that a material and substantial disruption existed thereby justifying the discipline of J.S. OFF-CAMPUS CYBER SPEECH PARADOX The difference in outcome between Emmett and J.S. reflects the breadth and depth of the cyber speech web. As the magnitude of social networking websites steadily grow, schools continue to question how far their authority extends to control student online conduct (Saavedra, 2006). Like school administrators and educational policymakers, lower courts and attorneys struggle to analyze new scenarios, such as student off-campus cyber speech, within the parameters of the four U.S. Supreme Court student speech cases (Calvert and Richards, 2006) - Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District (1969), Bethel School District No. 403 v. Fraser (1986), Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier (1988), and the most recent Morse v. Frederick (2007) opinion - and the longstanding true threat doctrine to determine if school officials violated the First Amendment when disciplining students for their cyber speech. This is not an easy task because much debate surrounds how these frameworks should be reconciled in such instances. The current paradox is that the aforementioned anthology of student speech precedent surrounds incidents on-campus or school-sponsored, whereas most issues relating to speech on the Internet occur away from campus on a student’s personal computer. The most difficult factor is when there is no direct correlation between the speech and the school because the student uses his personal resources, such as his home computer and Internet service, and does not take action to infuse the school community with the speech. Oftentimes a justifiable nexus between the school community and the student’s off-campus cyber speech is claimed to be established when school officials are notified of the speech through complaints and/or if the 64 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • SPRING 2009

speech is accessed on-campus by third parties. However, as logical and responsible this may appear from an educational leadership perspective, such reactions from administrators do not easily survive constitutional scrutiny. Tinker, most noted for this “substantial disruption test,” is the beacon light of the on-campus cases and is most frequently applied in student off-campus cyber speech cases. Recall from your school law course the following rationale expressed in Tinker. It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate . . . . But, in our system, undifferentiated fear of apprehension of disturbance is not enough to overcome the right to freedom of expression . . . . In order for the State in the person of school officials to justify prohibition of a particular expression of opinion, it must be able to show that its action was caused by something more than a mere desire to avoid the discomfort and unpleasantness that always accompany an unpolpular viewpoint. Certainly where there is no finding and no showing that engaging in the forbidden conduct would ‘materially and substantially interfere with the requirements of appropriate discipline in the operation of the school,’ the prohibition cannot be sustained (p. 506-509). In the student cyber speech context, it is argued that schools have expanded and contracted this ruling in order to discipline students for any reaction to off-campus cyber speech that has manifested within the purview of the school but not necessarily amounting to the sort of disruption the Tinker court envisioned. By solely applying some rendition of the substantial disruption test, public schools have taken great discretion to determine what constitutes a disruption because the court has never specifically defined what behaviors suit this standard. Doing so has resulted in school administrators exhibiting uncertainty when faced with such issues and thereby making disciplinary decisions that are not unequivocally supported by courts. Data analysis of student cyber speech cases reveals that the most noted reason for student discipline due to off-campus cyber speech (and off-campus non-cyber speech) is mere dislike by school administrators. School officials have been quick to attribute any sign of discomfort to that of a disruption. School administrators have admitted to knee-jerk reactions because they did not agree with a student’s off-campus cyber speech and not because of a justifiable disruption occurred. However, the majority of off-campus student speech cases reveal that courts are not willing to punish students for mere dislike or unsubstantiated fear of their speech by others. In the majority of cases, courts have found that school officials did not consider whether a viable nexus was established to corroborate punishing a student for their off-campus behavior. As noted in Tinker, even the most unpopular opinion may be constitutionally protected. Importantly, school safety and violence prevention are national concerns. The Internet is seen as an integral part of the incidents of vio-


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lence currently plaguing schools. Off-campus cyber speech can also amount to bullying, which is a major problem nationally. Arguably, the mental and emotional anguish suffered by a student does interrupt the educational process and amounts to a substantial disruption. Consequently, the virtual aspect of school violence has added new meaning to the notion of “fear of disruption” as discussed in Tinker (Redfield, 2003). However, even though in the wake of Columbine such concerns are important and urgent, school officials must understand that disciplinary parameters are earmarked by longstanding legal doctrines, such as the First Amendment. As such, student off-campus speech calls into question the adoption and implementation of educational policies designed to maintain safety and order while simultaneously adhering to the First Amendment. Since courts and legal commentators vary in opinion on this issue, school administrators too are not always certain how to best respond, understandably so. As one school official stated in response to an article by the Washington Post entitled Teens’ Bold Blogs Alarm Area Schools: Uninhibited Online Remarks Full of Risks, Officials Warn, “We are trying to figure out how does [sic] our school rules relate to this type of behavior” (Bahrampour and Aratani, 2006). School administrators are still held accountable for their behavior; therefore, they must stay abreast of the current developments to ensure a minimally acceptable level of justification for their decisions. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ADDRESSING STUDENT CYBER SPEECH By now you are probably wondering how to appropriately address a student that has engaged in untactful, but not necessarily unconstitutional, cyber speech. Going back to the stated purpose of this article, the first big consideration is the First Amendment free speech element. Once you call to the forefront of your mind the free speech context, you should then evaluate the nexus between the cyber speech and the school environment. The predominant factors that should be considered when accessing an appropriate nexus are stated below. 1. Specific evidence of outcomes altering the normal school climate. School officials should be able to demonstrate how 66 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • SPRING 2009

the normal school climate was negatively affected by the cyber speech. 2. The ability of school officials to maintain order. School officials should be able to demonstrate that they could not maintain the normal level of order due to reactions to the cyber speech. 3. The academic role of the complaining party. School officials should consider whether the complaining party should not be sensitive to typical behavior associated with the speaker’s age group. 4. The amount of time devoted to resolving issues related to the off-campus speech. School officials should be able to quantify and qualify the amount of time and resources devoted to eliminate the purported disruption directly caused by the cyber speech and not that caused by school officials’ reaction to the speech. 5. The degree of investigation by school officials. School officials should speak to the student cyber speaker with objectivity and not subjectivity. In the meantime, the least punitive measures should be taken to avoid disciplinary challenges. 6. Intent of the studentspeaker. School officials should speak with the student-speaker to ascertain the true motive behind the speech in order to determine if a true threat occurred. 7. Vague and/or Overbroad Policy. School officials along with their legal counsel or the appropriate policymaker should evaluate school policies to ensure that stated policies are clear as to permissible and impermissible speech and also would not eliminate permissible speech. 8. Mere dislike or unsubstantiated fear. Most importantly, school officials should not allow mere dislike and resulting unfounded fear to trigger their reaction. POLICY IMPLICATIONS AND FUTURE DIRECTIONS When ascertaining whether a nexus has been established as a result of a disruption to school operations, courts have scrutinized the legitimacy of school policies that have been used to justify punishment of a student. Hence, the implications of such policy evaluations are critical to educational administration because school administrators devote a significant bulk of their time to disciplining students. To


effectively do so without facing legal liability, school policies must pass constitutional scrutiny. As society continues to be revolutionized by technology, it is foreseeable that public school students will continue to be fascinated by the allure of technological capabilities. Computer access to the Internet is not the only outlet for expression that students enjoy. Internet enhanced cell phones, text messaging capabilities on cell phones and the like are also avenues for free expression. In addition to the types of technological device used, the types of student speech expressed via technology probably has not reached its zenith. It is reasonable to assume that students feel more comfortable blatantly expressing themselves via technology because there is no face-toface confrontation. In turn, school officials will continuously need to update school policies to align with cultural norms, community standards, and constitutional rights. McCarthy notes, “The issues [legal challenges surrounding Internet usage] are indeed complicated, and they are generating a volatile and expanding branch of school law” (McCarthy, 2004). McCarthy also notes, “Clarification is needed as to when student expression has to be disruptive to be censored and whether expression that conflicts with the school’s mission can be curtailed in the absence of a threat of disruption” (McCarthy, 2007). As succinctly stated in a periodical, “Student Internet speech will be fertile ground for the development of best practices, model policies, staff development, continuing education, research, and policy writing in the coming years. Scholars, practitioners, and school boards can continue to study - empirically, qualitatively, and jurisprudentially – the evolution of the law in this area” (Graca and Stader, 2007). This work does so and is the beginning of ongoing empirical and jurisprudential analysis on off-campus student cyber speech. The author of this work is conducting ongoing research to provide such clarification by exploring student behaviors and school officials’ responses that have pleased or not pleased courts as adequate satisfaction of the established frameworks. Indeed, it is pertinent that school officials remain up-to-date on student cyber speech developments to skirt judicial wrath. Even though the data reveals that South Carolina administrators have not been the subject of major headline news or court dockets in comparison to administrators in other states, the core issue of student cyber speech is not foreign to Carolinians. Thus, this is the perfect opportunity for school administrators, school attorneys, and other educational policymakers in South Carolina to practice preventive law by ensuring that educational policies and practices parallel current trends for resolving student cyber speech dilemmas. REFERENCES Bahrampour T. & Aratani, L. (2006, January 27). Teens’ Bold Blogs Alarm Area School: Uninhibited Online Remarks Full of Risks, Officials Warn. The Washington Post. Retrieved January 27, 2006, from http://www.washingtonpost.com.

Bethel v. Fraser, 478 U.S. 675 (1986). Calvert C. & Richards R. D. (2006, October 6). Freedom of Expression; T-Shirt Case is Ripe for Review. Washington Times, p. A19. Emmett v. Kent Sch. Dist. No. 415, 92 F. Supp. 2d 1088 (W.D. Wash. 2000). Graca T. J. & Stader D. L. (2007). Student Speech and the Internet: A Legal Analysis. NAASP Bulletin, 121, 128. Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier, 484 U.S. 260 (1988). Hudson, D. L. The First Amendment and the Media: Courts Continue to Grapple with Student Internet Speech. Retrieved May 25, 2008, from http://www.mediainstitute.org/ONLINE/FAM2003/5f.html J.S. v. Bethlehem, 807 A.2d 847 (Pa. 2002). McCarthy, M. M., Internet Censorship: Values in Conflict, 18 ED. LAW REP. 299, 311 (2004). McCarthy, M. M. Student Expression Rights: Is a New Standard on the Horizon?, 216 ED. LAW REP. 15, 30 (2007). Morse v. Frederick, 127 S. Ct. 2618 (2007). Redfield, S. E., Threats Made, Threats Posed: School and Judicial Analysis in Need of Redirection, 2003 BYU EDUC. & L. J. 663 (2003). Saavedra, S. (2006, June 4). Student Use of MySpace Presents a Quandary; School Weighs Control vs. First Amendment. The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved June 4, 2006, from www.signonsandiego.com Tinker v. Des Moines, 393 U.S. 503 (1969). Zirkel, P. A. (2000). Discipline for Off-Campus Misconduct. Principal, 70.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jesulon S. R. Gibbs, J.D., Ph.D. South Carolina State Univ. Dept. of Educational Leadership Orangeburg, SC 29117 • Jgibbs7@scsu.edu Dr. Gibbs’ primary teaching and research areas are school law and education policy analysis. Her current research foci are student cyber speech and anti-bullying policies.

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Continued From 48

the Voyager and Non-Voyager groups. There was a significant difference between the groups, p=.026 is significant at the .05 level. The analysis revealed that there was no significant difference among the socioeconomic levels, p= .053 is not significant at the .05 level. See Table 9. Post Hoc tests reveal that there is slight interaction between students who qualify for free lunch and students who pay for lunch. The mean difference was -7.0874 and the probability was .046 which is significant at the .05 level. The analysis revealed that the mean difference for students on free and reduced lunch was -5.4479 and the probability was .368 which is not significant at the .05 level. The mean difference for students on reduced lunch and students on paid lunch was -1.6395 and the probability was 918 which is not significant at the .05 level. See Table 10. The two-way ANOVA was conducted to determine the significance of socioeconomic level on reading comprehension scores for the Voyager and Non-Voyager groups. There was no significance between the two groups. The analysis revealed that the probability p= .359 is not significant at the .05 level. The analysis revealed that there was a significance difference among the socioeconomic levels, p= .000 is significant at the .05 level. When group and lunch (socioeconomic levels) was analyzed, it was found that there was no significant difference among the groups and lunch. The probability, p=.970 is not significant at the .05 level. See Table 11. As a result of the strong level of significance among the socioeconomic levels, Post Hoc Tests of Multiple Comparisons with the dependent variable, comprehension, were performed. The comparison of comprehension scores for socioeconomic levels showed that the mean difference between students on free lunch and students on reduced lunch was -6.9749 and the probability was .004. The difference between students on free lunch and students on reduced lunch reading comprehension scores was significant at the .05 level. The mean difference between students on free lunch and students who pay for lunch was -11.1081 and the probability was .000. The difference is significant at the .05 level. The mean difference for reading comprehension between students on reduced lunch and students who pay for lunch 68 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • SPRING 2009

was -4.1332 and the probability was .158. The difference is not significant at the .05 level. See Table 12. Conclusion: The overall findings for this study revealed that the ITBS vocabulary test scores of students instructed with Voyager was significantly higher than students taught reading by the traditional method using the basal reader. The ITBS reading comprehension scores for Voyager and Non-voyager students did not reveal a significant difference. There was no significant difference in vocabulary achievement related to ethnicity. However, the findings revealed a strong disparity between blacks and whites and blacks and others, but no significant difference existed between whites and other minorities.


identify schools that need help, but they don’t say much about the level of learning that takes place in them (p. 567).” Lewis cites research from the Chicago School District and other district in her effort to impress upon policy makers that all students must have equal opportunity to learn. Teachers’ instructional behavior influences student achievement more than any other factors. The increasing pressures to improve the reading performance of students on standardized and state reading test is present in all American schools (Raphael & Au, 2005). The pressure is greatest in schools that have a history of low test scores. Most of these schools’ population is made up of high proportions of students with diverse backgrounds. The effort to improve student achievement should not be one where the focus is on test preparation but rather a method that will improve reading comprehension.

Table 12: Post Hoc Results of Multiple Comparisons by Socioeconomic Levels Between Groups Mean Difference p Free and Reduced -6.9749 .004* Free and Paid -11.1081 .000* -4.1332 .158 Reduced and Paid

The analysis by socioeconomic levels yielded similar disparities. There was a significant difference between students that received free lunch and students that paid a reduced rate for their lunch. A significant difference also existed between students that qualified for free lunch and students that paid for lunch. However, there was no significant difference between students that ate reduced lunch and those who paid for lunch. For vocabulary achievement, there was no significant difference between students on reduced lunch and students on paid lunch. These findings supported the earlier findings of the Voyager Universal Literacy Program (Thompson, 2004). The Ketcham Elementary school is located in Washington, DC. The school is located in an urban area and housed in an aging building. Since the implementation of the Voyager program, the school boasts of its gains in first and second grades. The school has also made adequate yearly progress (AYP) for the last two years. An earlier report (Nelson, 2004), highlights the accomplishments and the progress of Richmond County Schools after the implementation of Voyager Universal Literacy. Richmond County had below –average test scores prior to the implementation of Voyager. Scores on the ITBS for third, fifth, and eight grades fell in the lower 50th percentile. About 40 percent of these students were proficient in reading. After four years of using the program, level one and building administrators have raves for the program. According to one principal, once the teacher felt comfortable with the new curriculum, success quickly followed. Fallon (2000) stated that program evaluation for early intervention programs is vital. A program should be satisfactory to parents, comply with regulations, and provide effective service. According to Lewis (2001) “Data from standardized test might

This research identified Voyager and other programs as having a positive impact on reading achievement. A large body of research supports the fact that Voyager impacts reading achievement positively, but not much reference to that achievement as measured by norm-referenced tests. If students are to compete nationally, they must be able to perform at comparable levels of achievement as their counterparts from other states. Educators must be willing to explore the effects of programs on its constituents. Teachers should get the necessary support, from district and building level administrators, which they need when transitioning to new programs or methodologies. Student achievement should also be measured by other means, such as projects and class participation. Much caution should be exercised when implementing new programs. Previous and current research on the effects of the program should be studied. Data should be disaggregated and carefully examined for problem or low achieving areas. Quality administrators and teachers are most important when implementing any program or methodology. Systems which do not have program evaluators should consider hiring one.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS: Mattie Jackson Burroughs, Ph.D Necati Engec, Ph.D. South Carolina State University Department of Educational Leadership Northeast Orangeburg, SC 29117 Phone: (803) 240-5315 • E-mail: nengec@scsu.edu

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Gold Hill Middle School Fort Mill School District Four Photographer: Mr. McGannon Student & Kate Quinn Mr. McGannon’s 7th Grade Science Class Frog Dissection Project

2009 Photo Contest Pacolet Elementary School Spartanburg School District Three Photographer: Holly Hartell Kindergarten instruction at Pacolet Elementary School focuses heavily on reading. Students are encouraged to explore and read independently throughout the day.

Bob Doster (Artist in residence) with 6th Grade art student sculpture welding. Stono Park Elementary Ashley River Learning Community, Charleston County School District Photographer: Connie Welle Stono Park Elementary has implemented Positive Behavior Intervention School (PBIS). One of the positive incentives are tickets students earn for good behavior. These tickets can be used for rewards. Imani Parker (right) used her tickets to earn a day shadowing the principal, Ruth Taylor (left).

Students at Pacolet Elementary use Promethean Activboards in every subject area. In this photo, a 2nd grade student uses virtual manipulatives during a math activity.

Pacolet Elementary students enjoyed breakfast with dads during Dad Appreciation Day.

Stono Park Elementary designated a special day as Mr. Isaac Washington Day. Mr. Washington has been Stono’s “RED” bus driver for many years and was recognized for this contribution to the safe transportation of our students to and from school. Pictured from left to right are: back row Danielle Richards, Ikenna Aninweze, Mr. Washington, Principal Ruth Taylor, and Rachel Simmons; front row Durham Bus supervisors Stanley Scroggins and Michael Wrighten.

Students in 1st grade made their own clocks and practiced setting them during their unit on telling time.

Doby’s Mill Elementary School Kershaw County School District Photographer: Randy Lee Doby’s Mill Elementary School’s Team Building Activities

Doby’s Mill Elementary School’s Robotic Team wins the Champion Award

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Chesterfield-Ruby Middle School Chesterfield County School District Photographer: Dr. Andrea L. Hampton, Principal

Cannons Elementary School Spartanburg School District Three Photographer: Kathy Ann Johnston Jose concentrates on the letter “A” on the first day of school!

Who said playing middle school football was easy!?

Marlboro County High School Marlboro County School District Photographer: Mitchell Shoffner

Eighth graders creatively show their school spirit at the first Pep Rally.

It’s a team effort!

The theme for Red Ribbon Week 2008 was YES, WE CAN say NO TO DRUGS, ALCOHOL AND POOR CHOICES and YES, WE CAN HELP OTHERS! Pictured are SGA representatives boxing up the over 500 cans of food donated during the week by students.

Mother and son enjoy a relaxing breakfast during American Education Week celebration. Theme: “Involved parents make the difference!”

A vision for the future!

We are one at MCHS!

Bulldog Pride is all in the Attitude!

Our school lost a beloved teacher to breast cancer this year. During Breast Cancer Awareness Month we LINKED TOGETHER TO FIND A CURE! This student is proudly showing off pink links put together as a fundraiser during Breast Cancer awareness month!

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Hilton Head Island High School Beaufort County School District Photographer: Bill Rawl Student Sean Shackelford rings up Seahawk apparel at the “Hawk Stop” store at Hilton Head Island High School. Students design and sell apparel as a part of their Marketing class.


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SCASA BUSINESS AFFILIATES ACT, Inc. (404) 231-1952

GCA Services Group, Inc (865) 588-0863

McGraw-Hill/Contemporary (706) 333-5351

ScienceSouth (843) 679-5353

AIG VALIC (803) 743-2022

Global Recruitment LLC (703) 928-0144

Scientific Learning (919) 325-3435

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Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative and Security Systems, Inc. (800) 240-3400 Boykin and Davis, LLC (803) 254-0707 Calloway, Johnson, Moore & West (803) 957-9373 CERRA - South Carolina (800) 476-2387 Childs & Halligan P.A. (803) 254-4035 CleBo Professional Development Agency (803) 829-1700 Colonial Life (803) 750-9222 Compass Learning (678) 429-4695 CPSI, Ltd. (800) 659-8240 CSI School Portraits (803) 432-3515 Curriculum Advantage, Inc (864) 630-0974 Cynergi Systems, LLC (864) 486-0267 Data Recognition Corporation (763) 268-2000 Diane’s Etc. (864) 654-4049 Duff, White & Turner L.L.C. (803) 790-0603 East Educational Services, Inc. (803) 781-4416 Educational Resources Group, Inc. (843) 539-1213 Foreign Academic & Cultural Exch. Serv. (803) 782-3902

National Teacher Associates of SC, INC. (972) 532-2100 NORESCO (803) 807-8866

Hart, Inc. (828) 645-4734

Nu-Idea School Supply Company, Inc. (803) 773-7389

Herff Jones (704) 847-9801

One Call Now (937) 335-3336

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Howard Industries (601) 399-5032 ID Shop, Inc. (864) 223-9600

Pearson (888) 977-7900 Planned Financial Services, Inc. (864) 232-7153

SCOIS (803) 737-2733 Scott McElveen, LLP CPAs (803) 256-6021 Select Health of South Carolina, Inc. (843) 569-1759 SFL+A Architects (910) 484-4989 Southern Accounting Systems (800) 552-2530 Southern Management Group (803) 256-1989 TE21, Inc. (843) 579-2520 Tests for Higher Standards (804) 725-7997

Presentation Systems South (704) 662-3711

The Variable Annuity Life Insurance Company (713) 522-1111

R. L. Bryan Company (803) 343-6808

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J. M. Smith Corporation (864) 542-9419

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United LTC Network, LLC (843) 361-9000

Johnson Controls, Inc. (803) 414-0424

Rubber Wholesalers (706) 334-2331

Jumper Carter Sease Architects, P.A. (803) 791-1020

SC Alliance of Black School Educators (803) 269-2715/(803) 241-2497

Voyager Expanded Learning (803) 518-9364

SC Association of School Nurses (803) 321-2620

Wil Lou Gray Opportunity School (803) 896-6462

Ignite! Learning (803) 749-0744 ITS - Information Technology Services Co. (864) 979-3558

Keenan Suggs Insurance (803) 799-5533 Kuder, Inc. (800) 314-8972 Learning Labs, Inc. (800) 334-4943 Lifetouch National School Studios (803) 788-1605 LightSPEED Technologies (803) 786-6995 Lineage Services Group, LLC. (803) 960-6986 LS3P Associates (803) 765-2418 M. B. Kahn Construction Co. Inc. (803) 736-2950

74 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • SPRING 2009

SC Chamber of Commerce (803) 799-4601 SC Council on Economic Education (803) 777-8676 SC ETV (803) 737-3322 SC School Boards Insurance Trust (803) 799-6607 SC State Credit Union (803) 255-8417 Scantron, Inc. (803) 439-6515 Scholastic, Inc. (843) 364-7215

VC3, Inc. (803) 733-7333

Willie J. Rice Photography (843) 379-3796 Wireless Generation (212) 796-2259


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Spring 2009 magazine copy