FLORENCE, S.C. – Fellows in Education participants heard Sneed Middle School Principal Bentley Oates talk Tuesday about his plans for a STEM magnet middle school at Sneed.
The Fellows in Education program is sponsored by Florence One Schools, The School Foundation and the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce. The program allows businesses and community leaders to get an in-depth look into Florence schools.
Oates said he is working with Chris Rogers, the STEM director of Florence One Schools, to move toward becoming a STEM magnet school next school year.
“I want Sneed to have something we’re known for,” Oates said.
Oates said they decided to go this route because the STEM classes have been very successful at the school and the teachers are very good.
After the eighth grade, Sneed Middle students go to West Florence High School, which is a STEM magnet school.
Sneed Middle has two leveled STEM classes: app creators and design and modeling. A modeled STEM class is one where there are two parts of the classes available to students.
Sneed Middle also has two STEM classes that are not leveled: robotics and medical detectives.
Oates also gave an overview of the school's opportunities for students and spoke about the school’s report card for the 2018-19 school year.
Sneed Middle received an above average ranking in social studies, English language arts and science, meaning students performed higher than the state average in these subject areas, Oates said. The school also saw a 7% increase in the number of students taking high school classes.
After Oates’ presentation, the fellows toured several classrooms, including a science, math, English and STEAM class. The fellows observed classes creating pull toys, working collaboratively on math problems and English assignments and learning about honey production.
The particpants even received sample bottles of honey from the Sneed Middle beehive.
Twana McRae said her visit to Sneed Middle was beautiful, and she thinks the school is doing a fantastic job at what it does.
“Whatever they’re doing here, they need to continue doing it,” McRae said. “Other middle schools and schools should mirror what they’re doing, because they’re doing a fantastic job.”
This is the fifth year the Fellows in Education program has taken place.
The School Foundation Executive Director Debbie Hyler said they started the program to show the community what is truly going on in the walls of a modern school.
"It's really interesting to me to see the participants' eyes light up," Hyler said. "I think they truly are amazed. So many people haven't been in a modern-day classroom."
The program consists of eight sessions. The group visits one school each month to learn about the school’s programs and needs.