Supt. Dr. Eddie Ingram, local school administration speak at DINA meeting
Last week’s Daniel Island Neighborhood Association (DINA) meeting at Church of the Holy Cross on Daniel Island hosted a panel of guest speakers from local schools, who gave brief updates on some of their goals and how the academic year is going so far.
Speakers included Berkeley County Schools Superintendent Dr. Eddie Ingram; Principal of Daniel Island School Kori Brown; Principal of Philip Simmons High School (PSHS) Dr. James Spencer; Director of School Counseling for PSHS Virginia Reijners; and Assistant Principal and Athletic Director of PSHS Brion Packett.
For Ingram, who officially took over the superintendent position on Aug. 21, students learning how to properly collaborate and utilize technology are two of the main goals he hopes to reach in his new post, he explained.
“We’re at a tectonic shift because in my pocket, as you do too, we have access to more information than the Library of Congress,” said Ingram. “We just have to know how to use the tools effectively. We have to learn to use differently and access information to solve problems. It’s about accessing a piece of information and using that information to solve complex problems. We lead by harnessing the power of smart people around us to help solve the problem.”
Another ideal Ingram aims to bring to the County is the importance and necessity of building good relationships.
“You have to build good relationships, which is something I’m working on,” said Ingram. “Part of my 90 day entry plan is to go to all of the schools. I’m on my 10th working day and I’ve visited 28 schools.”
The current education system in most districts operates off a standardized test model, Ingram explained. But for students to be prepared for the current workforce, he believes much has to change.
“I’m glad to report that Berkeley County does a lot of neat things already, but how can we take it and make it systemic?” asked Ingram. “That’s the trick. It has to be intentional and gradual… The accountability models, I think are pretty biopic. Tests don’t really tell us a lot. Good education isn’t really about memorizing the right answers; It’s about formulating good questions to solve complex problems.”
Ingram concluded by emphasizing how excited he is to be a part of the Berkeley County School District, specifically because of the positive changes that can be made.
“I’m more excited than ever because for the first time in my 37 year career, I think we have an opportunity to do things differently,” said Ingram. “If you think about your own high school experience, it was built on the industrial revolution model and that was over a long time ago. We have to educate kids for their future, not our past. That’s what I’m really passionate about.”
For Daniel Island School (DIS), Brown explained, the year is off to a “fabulous start.” As for their goals, she added, the school has several.
“One goal is to improve culture and communication,” she said. “We have a new newsletter that has, so far, gone out every week to our parents and families.”
With the addition of the newsletter, Brown explained that the school hopes to connect DIS and the community.
“Another one of my goals is to take advantage, in a good way, of this fabulous community that is so super supportive of our schools—working with PTA and the other area organizations to provide the best for our students,” said Brown. “This past year we partnered with the Rotary Club. We partnered with DINA and the PTA helps be our feet for that. I encourage you to become involved and to participate.”
For those students who enjoy biking to school, new bike racks are being installed on the school’s campus, she added.
“If you’ve been by our campus lately during the day, you’ll see that they’re inundated with bikes because we live in such a great place,” said Brown.
Next to speak were members of the administration from PSHS. For Spencer, Reijners and Packett, there are many aspects that make the school so unique.
“The most amazing part about this and the most important part is the climate and culture we’ve instilled at PSHS,” said Spencer. “Another reason why it’s been so good is we have, for lack of better terms, a ridiculously good staff… We truly brought in the best of the best. Lastly, another reason why it’s so neat to be in our school is this is the only school that I’m familiar with that let the administration have a voice in the design and now we’ve truly been able to marry a facility itself with a vision, with a curriculum centered around technology.”
Reijners added that PSHS’s curriculum is truly one-of-a-kind.
“They were designed based on what the workforce said would be needed,” said Reijners. “Our majors are sports medicine and for next year, a health and formatics program…We have a pre-engineering program that is truly off the charts. As that program builds, our networking and computer science courses will continue to grow as well. And then, mechatronics, which is the automation of manufacturing. When you think about our area and our growth, that is a huge skill that needs to be met and fed and we are doing that through our curriculum.”
The goal of these career-based courses, she added, is to give students as close to a real-world experience as possible so that they may find what they are truly interested in.
“We start with kind of that intro course and then we build throughout their career to three to four courses that give them some intensity and some experience at a higher level than if they were just taking courses here and there in electives,” said Reijners. “We’re really working with students to identify what their interests are and then guide them and steer them to match that, not only their interests but potentially their passion.”
Packett also touched on the school’s climate and culture, but his focus was, understandably, on athletics.
“We’re in full swing,” said Packett. “It’s really a beautiful thing that you see that we’re doing. You’ve got this vision and this mission and you see all of these numbers on paper and now it’s coming to life. Our football team is, we’ve only had two games, but we’re undefeated. That speaks volumes. Our volleyball program, we are extremely young and I cannot wait to watch those young ladies grow into those positions and dominate.”
But for Packett, what is most important is community support and involvement.
“Obviously monetary contributions are a beautiful thing, but I’d really appreciate your time,” he said. “Being involved with the community is something I’m a big advocate of. Our student athletes are gung-ho to get involved in the community, so if there’s ever a project or community service, we’re more than willing to get out there.”
The next DINA meeting will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 7. For additional information on the organization, visit www.dineighborhoodassociation.org.
DINA SEARCHING FOR NEW PRESIDENT
An announcement about a leadership change was also made at the Sept. 5 meeting of the Daniel Island Neighbor-hood Association (DINA). Those in attendance learned that DINA Vice President Shawn Pinkston will not be taking over the helm of the organization this month, as previously reported.
Current DINA President Clyde Rush announced in August that he was resigning the post effective September 15 due to relocating to the Summerville area. But at last week’s DINA meeting, Rush stated that he would be staying on as the club’s leader until October 10.
Pinkston was poised to take over the post, but after announcing plans to run for the S.C. House District 99 seat vacated by former Rep. Jim Merrill, it was decided the position may be a potential conflict of interest, said Rush.
“With Shawn’s recent decision to run for the South Carolina House of Representatives, Shawn decided not to as-sume the President position in order to avoid any image of a conflict of interest,” he added. “In addition, he felt that it was important that DINA not be politicized.”
DINA has appointed a search committee to identify a Daniel Island resident to assume the position of president and the position of chair of the Land Use and Zoning Committee (a post also held by Rush).
Serving on the committee are DINA members Dave Campopiano, chair of the DINA Transition Committee; Glenn Williman, past DINA president; and Rush.
Any Daniel Island resident interested in assuming the position of president or chair of the Land Use and Zoning Committee is encouraged to contact the search committee at president@ dineighborhoodassociation.org or firstname.lastname@example.org.