School board narrows attendance line options, plans first vote at Thursday's meeting

College Park Elementary School showcased the newest innovation in education in Berkeley County Tuesday night at the Berkeley County School District meeting.

College Park Elementary School spotlighted one of their experimental learning programs during the Spotlight on Innovation at the school board meeting. This new type of learning is called Multi-age Learning.

The program, which was used in only one classroom this past school year, entailed students from the 1st and 2nd grade being placed in the same classroom and learning cooperatively throughout the year.

During the upcoming school year College Park Elementary will have 4 classrooms take part in the program and will expand the grades as well. One set of classes will include 1st and 2nd grade and the 2 other classes will have 3rd and 4th grade. There will be 94 students taking part in the program next year.

College Park Elementary School principal Amanda Prince praised the program as a success. She said that the past school students in the program were able to grow and develop in ways that are not possible in a traditional classroom setting. She said that this type of learning is creating better students and better preparing them for the workforce.

“We are preparing our students for the next generation,” said Prince to the school board.

Judith Rainey, who taught the first combined 1st and 2nd grade class this year, praised the program and the impact it had on her students. She especially praised the way the program allowed for students of different ages to interact with one another. This allows for older students to assist the younger students in learning and foster curiosity in all students to want to grow as students and people.

“They are the ones that are helping the younger ones and soon become big brothers and big sisters to them,” said Rainey.

Prince said that the program creates a social learning environment, and the students are able to grow closer to one another like a family.

“It’s such a strong positive classroom community,” said Prince.

Debbie Maningding, who will teach the 3rd and 4th grade combined class, said that the classroom culture is like that of a little league team. Even though kids of the same age are on a team together they still work toward a common goal and aid one another to reach it.

Maningding also praised the program for its emphasis on self-directed learning and flexible classroom setting. Maningding said that the program allows for students to be taught based on their needs and interests as well.

“Our goal here is to teach them based on their needs, based on their interests, based on interest that they like,” said Maningding. “Because when we do that they are more likely to want to learn.”

Multi-age learning focuses on performance-based learning tasks. These include allowing students to learn and show their understanding of topics in a variety of ways through creative and open-ended approaches.

Prince said also emphasized that this program does not hold back the older students by being in the same classroom as younger students. She explained that students are taught on a learning progression and students are at different points on that progression regardless of their age.

Several board members also praised the program for its innovation. Sally Wofford, the board chair, had 2 children go through the program and said it had a very positive impact on her children.

“I wish every 1st and 2nd grade class was like this,” said Wofford.