The Post and Courierby Tim ArnoldWe’ve all heard, at some point in our lives, that learning is fundamental and that everyone should go to school and get a diploma. We sometimes forget that school is meant to prepare our youth for success, whether they are headed into college or straight into a career.Education is not only vital to enrich and mold young minds, but essential to the economic vitality of our state. There’s a direct correlation between education and occupation; which is why it is imperative that those in business are a part of the conversation on education. Businesses, small and large, keep South Carolina economically afloat. If our children are not prepared for the workforce then our economy will suffer.Schools and businesses can achieve more together than each can on their own. The founders of TransformSC recognized that there had to be more than one force backing South Carolina education. They realized that if business leaders, educators and policy makers came together, there could be real change in the way we educate our children. They understood that the workforce needs students who are able to work more effectively as part of a team, solve problems and take initiative.Business owners and executives are not just a source of financial support for education. They volunteer, provide apprenticeship opportunities and much more. Above all, opening the conversation to the business community gives business leaders a chance to weigh in and say, “This is what we are looking for in our potential candidates. This is what they need to have learned and be able to do.”Statistics show that those who do not graduate high school have a greater chance of being unemployed. So, what can we do to help more children graduate with the education and life skills for college and/or career? How can we cultivate learning? TransformSC has identified several innovative practices that help students achieve the knowledge, skills and characteristics they need to graduate. Network schools put project-based, competency-based and blended learning at the forefront to meet the needs of the students in their communities.Schools within the TransformSC network have seen an increase in graduation. For example, Carolina High School in Greenville increased graduation rates from 62.4 percent to 83.9 percent. The first class of Cougar New Tech, a TRSC school located within Colleton High School, graduated 100 percent of its students.Our schools base their curriculum on receiving personalized, self-paced instruction that gets the student engaged. They also give teachers an opportunity to build relationships within the community as businesses contribute project ideas, critique finished products, and listen to presentations.A survey conducted by the Riley Institute found that 90 percent of teachers feel that project-based learning has helped their students achieve the skills and characteristics needed to graduate; 84 percent of students said that project-based learning helps them learn more in school.Aside from transformation in students, TransformSC aims to foster growth and promote innovative practices with teachers and administrators. Every year several free hands-on workshops along with an annual conference are held for educators to learn new skills and strategies from experts across the nation. TransformSC also works with the Riley Institute to assess progress and results.When it comes to education, TransformSC is on the frontlines and continues to push for transformation in instruction that will positively affect every student, every teacher, every classroom, every day.To learn more about the program visit sccompetes.org/transformsc.Tim Arnold is president and CEO of Colonial Life and co-chairman of TransformSC.
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