January 2020

A Message from Mr. Stevens: Forward Together in 2021
District 7 Family,

As 2021 begins, I am mindful of the many ways District 7 has been called to move Forward Together over this past year - many of which we never imagined as we ushered in 2020.

Together with educators across our state and nation, we are continuing to do what we do best: teach and care for the children of our communities. Over the course of the last 11 months, the D7 team has been innovative, creative and dedicated to finding the best ways to provide high quality instruction in an ever-changing environment.  It has been hard. It has not been perfect. Solutions and the best course of action have not always been easy to determine. But our teachers and staff are going above and beyond – every day – and despite the many challenges this year presents our students, they are learning and growing in new ways as they become adaptive in the face of adversity.

As we reimagined school in order to prioritize health and safety, we created an environment together that allows learning to continue in the safest possible manner. Our teachers are true heroes - redesigning their entire approach to teaching in order to accommodate remote and in-person modalities and in order to work around safety protocols. They support the constantly changing needs of students, parents and the school district. We see their efforts and we honor their impact.

Our health services team has become the backbone of daily school operations, working tirelessly to support student and staff wellness. Their dedication to quick and thorough contact tracing for every positive COVID-19 case takes the forefront, seven days a week. They are our lifeblood as never before and we give thanks for their tremendous dedication.

Throughout District 7, support staff have taken on many new roles. Our transportation team distributes masks and disinfects buses. Our facilities team researches air purification and assembles plexiglass dividers. Our front office staff take temperatures. Our custodians spray or wipe every surface, time and time again.

Nearly every aspect of this year looks different. And yet, we move Forward Together.

We are so grateful for each member of our D7 family and we show it in big and small ways. From relaxing the dress code to eliminating non-essential meetings, and from door hangars with encouraging messages to special staff treats and meals, each school is pitching in with creative ways to say thank you. Just before winter break, our administration and Board surprised employees with a holiday bonus. The letter tucked inside said, “I wanted each person in D7 to know, you’re important; we need you and we appreciate you...When you’re in a school system going through a pandemic, everyone has got to work together. That’s what our employees have been doing, Forward Together.”

The Spartanburg Herald Journal recently spotlighted contributions of two D7 family members, Cleveland Academy of Leadership teacher Tiffany Bell and Drayton Mills Elementary custodian Michael Drummond. We hope you will enjoy reading these stories as we collectively celebrate everyone who distinguishes our incredible school system.

To all who see their job - whatever that may be - as a calling to "inspire and equip," we salute you!

With appreciation and hope for 2021,

Jeff Stevens
Superintendent
District 7 Trustees Are School Board Strong
Every January, communities across the country pay tribute to their local school boards. District 7 joined the salute by recognizing each of the nine men and women who work to advance public education through their service on our Board. This year's theme — School Board Strong — highlights the unique role school boards play in championing quality education. We invite you to read the salute for each trustee on our Facebook or Twitter pages.

Please join us in thanking our D7 Trustees, who have collectively contributed more than 100 years of service to District 7! Pictured above, from left to right front row: Sanders Lee (chair), Sharon Porter (secretary), Clay Mahaffey (vice chair); and from left to right top row: Meg Clayton, Kenneth Myers, Sr., Andy Hayes, Jeff Mason, Vernon Beatty and Rick Gray.
A Shot of Hope: COVID-19 Vaccine Updates
Our D7 nurses continue to roll up their sleeves to keep our colleagues and children safe. School nurses are among the first group of employees to receive the coronavirus vaccine. As healthcare workers, they are included in the Phase 1a group in South Carolina’s vaccine rollout. Teachers will be included in Phase 1b, which is anticipated to begin in early spring.

Mary H. Wright Elementary School nurse Robbin Argentine, pictured above left, posted her vaccination photo on social media with the comment, " "This Registered Nurse got her vaccine! I trust in and am thankful for science!  ❤️ Thank you to the scientists responsible for vaccine development and all the clinical trial participants. My heart is heavy for the thousands we have lost to this virus. Feeling grateful with a bit of hope."

Whitlock Flexible Learning Center teaching assistant Ebony Foster-Young, pictured top right, participated in a Moderna vaccine trial in 2020. She says, "I participated in the study because I wanted to help my family, friends, and students. It was blind so I didn’t know if I had received the placebo or the real thing. In November of 2020, my family and I had Covid 19. During my bout with Covid 19 I didn’t have any symptoms or sickness. My husband and youngest daughter were very sick. I truly believed the shot is what helped me and allowed me to be able to care for my daughter and husband."

As part of ongoing COVID-19 communications with the community, the District has created a webpage with key information from DHEC and the CDC about the COVID-19 vaccine and its availability to various groups within the Spartanburg community. The page includes links to the DHEC and CDC websites for further information. Our goal is to help educate and connect our community with information so that each D7 employee and family can make an informed decision about receiving the vaccine. Visit D7's COVID-19 Vaccine Info Page at www.spartanburg7.org/covidvaccine for more information.
District 7 thanks the entire team at Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System for working so hard to keep us well and safe. We invite you to explore the SRHS YouTube Channel, a central hub for the latest coronavirus vaccine and research information. Chief Medical Officer Chris Lombardozzi, MD, answers some of the most pressing questions about the COVID vaccine: "Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I have already had COVID? Are the vaccines safe? Do they work?"' You can view this video by chapters and question topics.
D7 Schools Emphasize Unity and Service
This is a challenging time for our nation, yet throughout the halls of District 7 are the very children who will become the champions of a bright future. Each day, we are surrounded by this hope. Each day, we have the opportunity to inspire and equip our students so they may one day lead and serve.

During January, the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was celebrated within our schools through a host of lessons and activities about the civil rights leader’s life, his principles and his message about equality. Carver Principal Nicole Thompson said she and her staff like to connect the study of Dr. King to what’s happening today. She added it’s important for kids to know “how far we’ve come and how we’re continuing to push forward.” Carver students responded to a writing prompt, “In what ways is Martin Luther King Jr’s. dream still alive today?” Mrs. Thompson said the lesson ensures his dream lives on through our young people, who have the power to shape what America will be in the future.

Fifth-graders at Pine Street Elementary selected some of King's quotes to study, and then showed how these relate to their own lives or current events by acting them out for their classmates. Fifth-graders at Drayton Mills Elementary created their own song and video honoring the infinite hope and possibility in Dr. King's work.
After reading his "I Have A Dream" speech, 8th grade ELA students at Carver Middle wrote and illustrated letters to Dr. King telling him about the state of social justice in America today.
Students at Mary H. Wright Elementary recited the preacher's most famous speech, "I Have a Dream." Dr. King gave this speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. 
During the Viking Early College's monthly Lunch & Learn with Dr. Russell Booker and Bill Barnet, students discussed Dr. King’s "Letter from Birmingham Jail" (August 1963) with Darrin Goss, CDO of Coastal Community Foundation, and John Simpkins, CEO of MDC, Inc.
JBE Earns Common Sense Designation
Students and staff at Jesse Boyd Elementary are starting this new semester flying high. For the third time, the school is being honored by Common Sense Media as a Certified School for Digital Citizenship. 

Principal Jonathan Duvall said, "Teaching digital responsibility is the norm at JBE. The Common Sense curriculum provides students with support to navigate the digital landscape and shares foundational principles of our International Baccalaureate program such as respect, empathy, and responsibility." JBE's Technology Integration Specialist, Dr. Wanda Greenfield, said, "We incorporate it into everything we do at school. We have watched our students' learning take off with the use of technology and we have brought the world to their fingertips. It is so rewarding to teach our young people what it means to be a global citizen."

Rebecca Randall, Senior VP, Development & Regional Growth for Common Sense Media, praised both schools and the District for "giving students the foundational skills needed to compete and succeed in the 21st-century workplace and to participate ethically in society at large." 
McCracken Middle Students Win Big at Future City Competition
Residents whirring around inside a pod on the moon, which is topped with a nuclear power plant...

Such premonitions of our technologically enhanced futures abounded as McCracken Middle School students competed in the 18th South Carolina Regional Future City Competition. Students built a 3D model of a fictional future city on the moon that utilized two moon resources with scientifically-driven methods to keep residents safe and healthy. "Eagleton," their fictitious city on the moon, was conceived by Jay Blanton, Max Cash, Isabella Donnelly, Steven Egge, Avery Gilley, Sam Mitchell and Tyler Strickland. It comes complete with hydro water filtration, hydroponics and nuclear power.

The team received the top award - First Place in the Region – in the state competition and also earned the Best City Model award, the Best City Presentation award, Best Project Management Team and the Student Choice Award. They performed alongside dozens of teams from schools across the state. One judge said in their evaluation, "I have been judging this competition for almost 10 years now and this is one of the best models I have ever seen. Very well done!"

Team sponsors Jennifer Keiner (top right) and DeDee Quinn (top left), 7th and 8th grade science teachers, respectively, said this award represents all the effort the team put in over the last few months, including time spent on weekends, holidays and after school. “This team worked hard and believed in themselves and in their ability to achieve their goals.”
 
Due to the pandemic, the award ceremony was held virtually from the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center at USC Aiken. With the big win comes a trophy for the school, an acrylic plaque, a $3,000 scholarship for each student, and $700 in prize money to be used for the team's STEM initiatives. As the first place team in the South Carolina region, our McCracken students will go on to compete nationally at the virtual competition in April. Congratulations to these students and to their mentors, Mrs. Keiner and Ms. Quinn!
Free Meals Through End of School Year
All students in D7 will receive FREE breakfast and lunch every day through the end of the 2020-2021 school year as part of the federal government’s coronavirus response. The USDA has extended emergency waivers for its national free school lunch program in order to ensure student access to nutritious meals during the public health emergency.

For students in the District 7 Virtual School, families can pick up free seven-day meal kits on Thursdays at either Drayton Mills Elementary School or Carver Middle School. Students must register in advance (only one registration is needed per school year, so those currently receiving meals do not need to register again). Please visit https://www.spartanburg7.org/FreeMeals for more information and to register. You can use this link to check the menu at your school.
D7 & Converse Partner on Teacher Pipeline Program
The new Valkyrie Middle College (VMC), now in its first year, is creating a pathway from high school to college for students who desire to earn a degree in education and make an impact in Spartanburg county. The partnership between District 7 and Converse University created a two-year, co-ed program that provides high achieving SHS students the opportunity to earn up to 30 hours of transferable college credit – free of cost to the student. Spartanburg High School students apply during the spring of their sophomore year and participate during their junior and senior years. Priority acceptance to Converse’s teacher education program, which is now open to both males and females, and priority consideration for teaching jobs in District 7 are benefits for students who successfully complete the program.

The deadline to apply for the Fall 2021 cohort is Friday, February 25. You can learn more here.
In the News
Scene Around Seven
The McCarthy Teszler Family took time to send a special shout out to Clint Cooper on School Resource Officer Appreciation day! Our SROs are truly part of our D7 family!
Cleveland Academy third graders in Miss Fernanders’ class are captive and active participants as they explore fraction equivalents.
100 Days Smarter: D7 students really got into the 100th day of school fun and learning activities. We captured some of the joy (schools pictured in rows) at Drayton Mills, Jesse Boyd, Mary H Wright, the D7 Early Learning Center, and E.P. Todd School. Great job, students!
A big shout out to the Drayton MIlls classroom and school level spelling bee winners! In the age of autocorrect, spelling is a lost art...but not for these folks! Congratulations, Dalmatians!
At Carver Middle School, the AVID philosophy is ingrained across all subject areas and mediums to enable students to succeed in becoming college ready. Here, 6th grader Isaiah Meredith works on his art project.
The Drayton Mills student council took on a new winter service project this year. Student council members felt the pandemic had been very hard on ER staff at Mary Black Hospital and they wanted to do something special for them. Student leaders wrote cards to all 54 staffers, using a combination of humor, heartfelt messages, and snacks to cheer up the healthcare heroes!
Pine Street Elementary had some fun with the photo of Bernie Sanders, wearing his mittens at the Presidential Inauguration, which has become the gift that keeps on giving! Thanks to their photo editing, the U.S. Senator was spotted all over school. Here, he enjoys some of the finer things in the kindergarten wing.
The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t spell defeat for the annual spelling bee at Pine Street Elementary. Ryan Othman is the school's champion! Bravo!
The Hour of Code is a global initiative designed to teach students simple computer coding. It takes place each year during National Computer Science Education Week. Pine Street had 21 classes participate during the months of December and January.
Spartanburg High School students in Mrs. Walker’s biology class enjoyed hands-on lab work through a collaborative with the Greenwood Genetics Center.
Its fun to be a look-alike for a good book character! This Meeting Street Academy student is all smiles behind her mask - she is a rock star just like Jada Jones!
Drayton Mills celebrated students who made considerable strides on their iReady tests with a surprise treat. They had the honor of turning their principal, Thomas Webster, into a human ice cream sundae. A SWEET time was had by all!
Dressed in their safety glasses, students in Mr. Hawkins class at the Early Learning Center used tools to disassemble control panels from washers and dryers as part of their study unit on clothes. While inside they discovered lots of wiring, switches, buzzers, and other electronics. The activity sparked good conversation, helped the children practice fine motor skills, and expanded their understanding of technology and how things work. Bravo!
Game Design student Hunter Warren is pictured looking through his sprite sheets to pick attributes for his characters. Hunter is a junior at Spartanburg High School studying at Daniel Morgan Technology Center's Concentrator in Programming and Software Development. Check out all the programs DMTC has to offer during their Virtual Open House on February 8 - 12.
Solvay Spartanburg donated “swag bags” to students at E.P. Todd School after giving students a virtual look at what their company does in Spartanburg. District 7 is grateful for our generous community partners!
Save the Dates
February
8 & 12
Monday, February 8 & Friday, February 12
Daniel Morgan Technology Center Open House
February
Black History Month

Monday, February 1-
Friday, February 5
National School Counseling Week

Tuesday, February 2
School Board Meeting
 
Wednesday, February 3
National Signing Day

Thursday, February 4
We Are One Spartanburg Town Hall

Monday, February 8
Progress Reports

Monday, February 8 &
Friday, February 12
Daniel Morgan Virtual Open House

Monday, February 15
Staff Development Day
School Bus Driver Appreciation Week
 
Wednesday, February 17
Ash Wednesday

Sunday, February 28
School Choice Application Deadline


District 7 is pleased to participate in the "We Are One Spartanburg" campaign encouraging our community to join together to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.

A virtual Town Hall discussion featuring educators will be broadcast this Thursday, February 4 at 7:30 pm. You can watch it live here on ReGenesis Health Care's Facebook Page.

The panel discussion will include Spartanburg High School Principal Vance Jones, Cleveland Academy of Leadership Teacher Tiffany Bell, and D7 Trustee Kenneth Myers as well as other education leaders.
Apply for School Choice by February 28
District 7 families have the option of applying to attend a different school within the district through our School Choice program. If you wish to enroll your child in a school other than the one he/she currently attends (or is assigned to attend next year based on your residence, if your student is moving up from elementary to middle school), you must submit a completed School Choice application online no later than February 28, 2021. Applications are available at spartanburg7.org/SchoolChoice. Space is limited and applications are processed in the order they are received. Students already participating in School Choice do NOT need to apply again. 

Learn more at spartanburg7.org/SchoolChoice.

Virtual Science Fair Launches February 22
If your child is more interested in which brand of battery lasts the longest instead of the new video game he received at Christmas, you’re in luck! You can encourage your student by helping them plan for the Piedmont Region III Science Fair. The Science Fair is open to all students in grades 1-12.

In light of the pandemic, this year's Science Fair will be virtual. The classic display boards will not be part of the science fair this year, instead alternate documents will be uploaded online for judging. Student registration opens Feb. 22, for details, visit spartanburg7.org/sciencefair.

"Our students are really excited, not just to get to do their projects, but to be doing research, getting experience, and getting creative," said District 7 Science Coordinator Becky Cornwell. “The youth of today are very resilient, and they're willing to take on every challenge."
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