KnowledgeWorks, Riley Institute Poised to Develop Innovative High Schools Along I-95 Corridor

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Clarendon 1 and Colleton County School Districts will benefit from Investing in Innovation grants to implement state’s first New Tech Network STEM high schools

Richard W. Riley, KnowledgeWorks

Our hope is that the I-95 Corridor can become a ‘corridor of innovation’ and have a dramatic impact -- not only on the region -- but on the state and nation, as well.

Clarendon 1 and Colleton County School Districts can begin the process of adding two new innovative high schools during the 2012-2013 academic school year through a $2.9 million competitive Investing in Innovation (i3) grant, the South Carolina Board of Education today from KnowledgeWorks, which worked with the Richard W. Riley Institute at Furman University to help win the grant.

In November, KnowledgeWorks was selected as one of 23 grant finalists by the United States Department of Education, and South Carolina stands poised to receive $2.9 million. The project will create two STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) New Tech High Schools along the I-95 corridor. Completion of the grant requires a 15 percent match of private, local and national funds.

KnowledgeWorks’ Senior Director of National Advocacy and Partnerships, Matt Williams; and Jacki Martin, Associate Director of the Riley Institute at Furman University; are discussed the grant and offered more details about the process before the Board at its regular meeting in the Rutledge Conference Center in Columbia.

In addition to the Riley Institute, KnowledgeWorks partnered with Clarendon 1 and Colleton County School Districts, and the Evaluation Center at the University of West Georgia to bring the grant to fruition.

Former U.S. Secretary of Education and South Carolina Governor Richard W. Riley, a member of KnowledgeWorks’ board of directors, said the implementation of the grant can have a dramatic impact on education in South Carolina.

“We are delighted to be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education for our focus on the critical need for STEM education in rural areas of the United States,” Riley said. “The grant can be used to help transform Scotts Branch High School and Colleton County High School into innovative New Tech Network STEM high schools, where students are working in teams, solving problems and taking responsibility for their learning. Our research tells us these are necessary skills for students to become successful members of tomorrow’s work force. Our hope is that the I-95 Corridor can become a ‘corridor of innovation’ and have a dramatic impact -- not only on the region -- but on the state and nation, as well.”

New Tech Network (NTN), a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks, works nationwide with schools, districts and communities to develop innovative high schools. NTN provides services and support that enable schools to fundamentally rethink teaching and learning so that students gain the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in life, college and the careers of tomorrow. These two schools will be transformed into cutting-edge, technology-rich schools and eventually into NTN training centers for future development of additional New Tech schools across the state of South Carolina.

Leila Williams, superintendent at Colleton County, said, “These schools represent a game-changer for our community, because our students will get the opportunity to develop 21st-century skills such as collaboration, problem-solving and critical thinking that are needed to succeed in the future.”

Rose Wilder, superintendent of Clarendon 1, agrees. "We must prepare our students for jobs for the twenty-first century. They need to know that there is hope and the opportunities for them to be successful in their chosen vocations. The brass ring here is the fairly recent location of Boeing to South Carolina and the new industries to our area that will grow around Boeing. The implementation of a New Tech High School represents a new beginning for our students and this community,” she said.

Don Gordon, Executive Director of the Riley Institute, sees the creation of New Tech Schools as an opportunity to scale the concept in South Carolina and begin a pathway to strong careers for students in the I-95 corridor and across the state. “The five-year implementation process will transform these schools from the roots up, and eventually, as they become New Tech training centers, the model will be wider-reaching. This federal investment has the potential to seed profound change in the economic future of these kids, for South Carolina and beyond.”

New Tech Network President Lydia Dobyns said the creation of the first two New Tech STEM high schools in South Carolina represents a milestone. “As we continue to grow our presence in schools across the nation, our commitment to achieving excellent academic success is matched with a dedication to developing skills the business community values: critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication,” Dobyns said.

About the New Tech Network

New Tech Network is a non-profit school development organization that partners with districts and organizations to implement innovative high schools. New Tech Network is a proven model in its 15th year with more 86 schools in rural, urban, and suburban locations throughout the country.

About KnowledgeWorks

KnowledgeWorks is bringing the future of learning to America’s high schools and creating widespread, lasting change in the communities and states we serve. Our portfolio of high school approaches includes New Tech Network high schools, EdWorks high school redesign, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and Early College High Schools. Our Strive subsidiary offers a cradle-to-career strategy for bringing all of a community’s resources to bear on solving its most pressing education issues.

About the Riley Institute

The Richard W. Riley Institute of Government, Politics, and Public Leadership is a multi-faceted, non-partisan institute affiliated with the Department of Political Science at Furman University. Named for former Governor of South Carolina and United States Secretary of Education Richard Riley, the Institute is unique in the United States in the emphasis it places on engaging students and the community on three fronts, including public education, diversity leadership, and politics, policy and leadership.

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Byron McCauley
Knowledgeworks
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