HAMLET — One year after receiving a $750,000 Golden Leaf grant, K-12 Math and Science Director Kelly DeLong stood in front of the Richmond County Board of Education to show what kind of progress has been made so far.
The grant, which is a partnership between Richmond County Schools and Richmond Community College, is a three-year goal to improve college and career readiness in the county’s students — especially in the science, technology, engineering and math areas — said DeLong.
“It is a six beyond 12 aspiration that we have,” she said, referring to the grades affected, “and we have done a lot in the last year.”
Cynthia Reeves, RCC’s associate dean of institutional effectiveness, has been working in conjunction with Richmond County Schools and talked a little bit about the number crunching going into it.
“It has been an incredibly positive and rewarding experience to work with Richmond County Schools on this project. We have had tremendous success in the first year,” said Reeves. “We have incrased the number of students eligible to take college courses and enroll in college courses, particularly in the STEM areas in the first year.”
That was accomplished, she said, by working together on three things: providing better and more information to counselors and teachers about college courses and how students benefit from taking those courses; providing more courses for students and making those courses available; and providing transportation to students from the high school to the college.
“A lot of students don’t have their own cars, so we wanted to make sure that every student that’s eligible could make these classes,” she said. “The greatest percentage change were in those areas. Those were easy fixes. The test scores, those are more difficult to move those numbers but in the first year we see a significant change.”
The change Reeves is speaking of is the nine percent increase in test scores, which she said is the heart of the project in order to better prepare students for college and careers.
“It is exciting that kids from Richmond Senior High School are now beginning to think going to RCC is just what we do,” said DeLong. “This is just what we do.”
A new digital frontier has also became reachable because of the technological infrastructure, devices and digital content that’s now available for kids.
During the first year, DeLong said, a cart of 30 touchscreen computers were disbursed to every Math I classroom. Every math teacher and math student from grades 6-12 were also given a Discovery Education digital content license, which will continue for the next two years.
“It’s a three-year license that we were able to purchase with the contents of this grant,” she said.
All Richmond Senior High School students were also equipped with Chromebook laptop computers in January as part of the program.
“This digital initiative that we have has lots of pieces,” DeLong said.
Richmond County Schools’ Chad Osborne and Jeff Epps teamed up lead a TechyKids geospatial math camp last month — an adventure in 3-D design and modeling aimed at strengthening basic mathematical concepts through technology — and in June led another STEM camp where kids could learn to write code to control Sphero robots and drones.
“I think this is great for students what with the concept of STEM and see how it’s being implemented with all the students and grade spans there,” said board member Joe Richardson. “It’s just terrific. Sounds great.”
Reach reporter Matt Harrelson at 910-817-2674 and follow him on Twitter @mattyharrelson.