Bold new idea coming to Aiken Co. elementary school

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Thursday, March 7, 2013

AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW) -- There’s big news for North Aiken Elementary School in Aiken County.

"We're excited about the possibility of the changes that are coming,” said teacher Quinton McClary.

"The idea is that the other schools will be coming to us to see what's going on,” said Assistant Principal Cathy Ellis.

That's because North Aiken is going through a big change. It'll soon be known as something called a "model school."

"We needed to something bold -- something that will make a statement,” said King Lawrence, an assistant superintendent for the Aiken County Public School District.

Lawrence says the district has had model classrooms in the past that boasted learning environments with premier teachers, state-of-the-art technology and intensive curricula. However, at North Aiken, the district is taking that idea to the extreme.

"We expect that three years from now that you can walk into any classroom in North Aiken and say, 'Ahh! That's what it looks like. That's what it looks like to have students actually engaged,'" Lawrence said.

He says that'll mean devices and computers in the hands of every student, smart boards in every classroom, different methods of teaching and a more family-oriented environment, which are all ingredients that can be duplicated in other schools.

"Of course, we don't want to go for a cookie-cutter kind of approach to things. Every school is different. Every student population is different. Every community is different,” he said.

But teachers and faculty welcome the change at North Aiken, the school with the highest poverty level in the district. Last year, the school was given an 'F' by the Federal Accountability System.

"It's going to put them on a more even playing ground with children from all over the district and the state,” Ellis said.

North Aiken's principal until now, Rhonda Ray, will be moved to a leadership position at the Center for Innovative Learning at Pinecrest, the district alternative school.

Elisa Sanders-Pee, who up until this point was principal at New Ellenton Middle School, will be moved to North Aiken.

Ellis says Sanders-Pee has the proven track-record to implement this new idea to teaching.

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