New charter school plans to transform education

New Charter School

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Soon, students in the Grand Strand will have a new shot at getting a different kind of learning experience. It could be the latest sign of the charter school boom happening nationwide taking form in the Palmetto State.

Construction for Palmetto Academy of Learning and Success near the back gate kicked off last December, and the 45,000-square-foot facility is starting to take shape. The new charter school will teach kindergarten through eighth grade.

Also in works: a new charter high school, Coastal Leadership Academy (CLA), to be located inside of a commercial building on Palmetto Pointe Blvd. The new schools will bring Horry County's charter school count to six. It's a trend other parts of the state are also seeing. Twenty new charter schools have opened in South Carolina just over the last five school years. There will be ten more in the fall of 2013.

"We're here to make changes in education," said CLA's principal, Melinda Tavernier. She says the school will push the envelope, and  CLA will use a more hands-on approach to teaching and education. CLA will use project-based learning (PBL) inside the classroom. "Students come up with a solution to a scenario in real life experiences," explained Tavernier.

Research shows that when done right,  PBL boosts a student's performance. CLA will be the first high school in the southeast region of the U.S. to exclusively use this style in the classroom. Students will still be required to meet SC academic standards, and teachers will be evaluated on their performance

Tavernier says CLA will offer an "out-of-the-box" environment.

"We are a 21st century high school," she said, "and we want this school to have a different feel than a regular high school."

At CLA there, won't be many desks or white boards. Students will encounter very few  textbooks. Instead, there will be lots of electronics.

"This school should mirror our society of today," said Tavernier. Students will actually be encouraged to bring their laptops and cellphones from home to use them in the classroom.

Tavernier said the school is designed to look more a college environment than a high school. Last April, the school got the okay and funding from the state. Come this fall, Tavernier said the CLA school will shake up the local education scene with a staff of 15 and 159 students.

"It is my belief that is the purpose of charter school on South Carolina."

Also unique to Horry County,  CLA is part of South Carolina's Charter District. This means students from counties all over the state are allowed to attend. So far, the school has a handful of students enrolled who are from Georgetown county. CLA is still enrolling students at this time. Interested people can visit the school's website.

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