Around Our Schools :: Richland School District Two, Part 1

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One of the most arduous tasks for a parent is choosing a school for their child. This task becomes seemingly insurmountable when you add to the mix relocating from a different city or state. Around Our Schools’ intent is to sift through the multitude of rating scales, personal opinions, and yelp ratings, in order to tell you what you need to know so that you can make the best informed educational decision for your child.  

Richland School District Two

Richland Two is the largest and fastest-growing school district in the Midlands and is one of two school districts in Richland County. As stated on their website, the district serves more than 27,000 pre-K through 12th-grade students in 40 schools and centers; 20 elementary schools, seven middle schools, five high schools, four magnet centers, one child development center and one alternative school. With over 20 schools, there is something for everyone. 

Dr. Baron R. Davis, the district’s current superintendent, has been at the helm since 2017 and has initiated various innovative programs throughout the district. While his accolades, and the accolades of the district under his leadership, are too numerous to mention, Dr. Davis continues to strive to provide a premier educational experience for every student. 

The Board of Trustees, which is chaired by James Manning, functions “primarily as a legislative body to formulate and adopt policy while employing a superintendent.” Trustees include Vice Chair Amelia B. McKie, Secretary Dr. Teresa Holmes, Lindsay Agostini, Dr. Cheryle Caution-Parker, Lashonda McFadden and Dr. Monica E, Scott

Richland Two’s Choice program provides parents the opportunity to apply for admission to a school outside of their zoned residential area via expanded choice, which is based on lottery and school capacity, to a magnet program, which is based on a selection criterion, or to the R2eSchool which provides a virtual experience to both middle and high school students. If your child is accepted to a school outside of their zoned school, parents will be responsible for transportation.  

But what are magnet programs? The State of South Carolina defines a magnet program as a public school that offers a specialized program not available anyplace else. Magnet schools are public schools that adhere to all state requirements and may operate school-wide, allowing all students the opportunity to participate in programming, or as a school within a school program, allowing only those admitted to participate in the program.

The highlighted schools for the month include Bridge Creek Elementary, Dent Middle School and Westwood High School.  

Bridge Creek Elementary MED

Bridge Creek Elementary school, located in Elgin, SC is home to the MED program (medical, engineering and discovery through arts). MED is a school-wide magnet program. The program offers students hands-on exploration using case-studies in a fully functioning Medical Lab. There is also an Engineering Lab where students experience the Engineering Design Process. The Arts program includes new instruments, dance, and art media.  

All students who are interested in science, medicine, health, engineering and art would find the MED program engaging, and since MED is a school-wide magnet there is no application process for students who are zoned for Bridge Creek.   

Dent Middle School

Dent Middle School is home to three magnet programs: FAME, TLC, and Two Academies.

FAME, the fine arts and media enrichment, is offered to all Dent students and includes an array of classes such as: Band, Choral Music, Dance, Media Technology (including Video Production, Video Animation and Web Design), Strings, Theatre, World Drumming, and the Visual Arts (including Graphic Design). Sixth graders are given the opportunity to “try-out” classes in a six-week rotation prior to selecting an area of focus.

Do you have a high-achieving, highly motivated child?  If so, TLC may be the program for them. TLC, The Learning Collaborative, characterizes itself as a magnet that immerses students “in a rigorous, intellectually stimulating academic environment.” If you are asking yourself what makes TLC different from other magnets, it is the collaboration among students and the interconnectedness of subjects that engage students as they tackle real-world problems. 

Two Academies – Middle school brings with it developmental, physical and emotional changes. Two Academies aids students as they maneuver what could be a tumultuous time, by reducing some of the pressure through single-gender classes. All core courses (Math, Science, ELA & Social Studies) are single-gender. In Two Academies students will experience hands-on learning experiences, classes with gender-specific learning strategies, and a rigorous curriculum.

Westwood High School 

Westwood HS’s iRED is a whole-school magnet. The Institute for Research Engagement and Design (iRED) is a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) program available to all students.  

Studio D is a project-based learning experience for students as they select, research and tackle a real-world problem. Through this process, students learn leadership, communication, collaboration, innovation and perseverance. All real-world skills necessary for college and career. 

But if you are asking yourself “Which is the best school, the best program for my child?” The answer to that question is any school in which you as the parent are involved. 

You see, it is the parent that makes a difference in the education of their child. So join the PTO, email a letter of introduction to both the teacher and the principal, and offer to volunteer. It is activities such as these that tip the tides between your child having a mediocre school year and a premier school year in Richland Two.

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What do you get when you take an unapologetic Jersey girl and sprinkle her with an extra portion of South Carolina roots, one Stephanie L. West. After 49 years of living in New Jersey, Stephanie and her family relocated to Columbia in 2019. Stephanie is an educator, with over 20 years of experience, who received her Bachelor’s degree in English Education and her Master’s in Education Administration. While currently employed with Richland 2 school district, Stephanie has worked in elementary, middle, high school, and college. She is the mother of two very active children that keep her on her toes, Justin, her football and soccer playing 13-year-old son and Jordan her 10-year-old budding scientist daughter. When not attending one of her children’s events you will find Stephanie at yoga, reading about aromatherapy or herbalism, or trying out a new cupcake or vegan recipe. Stephanie loves all things outdoors, except the bugs, and when she finds a way to avoid those she would have truly found nirvana.

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