Michelin North America donates to SC “Schools of the Future” project

November 13, 2008

COLUMBIA, SC – November 12, 2008 – The South Carolina National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future Coalition today announced that Michelin North America donated $25,000 toward the state’s first Inside-Out Centers for Learning. Michelin announced its corporate partnership last evening at a celebration and fundraiser it sponsored for the project. Located in Anderson Five and Lexington One counties respectively, both Nevitt Forest and Forts Pond Elementary Schools will develop and pilot initiatives that transform teaching and learning for the future.

“Michelin’s gracious donation will allow two elementary schools in South Carolina to explore new pathways to teaching and learning,” said Joanne Avery, deputy superintendent for Anderson School District Four and co-chair for the state coalition.  “Having a sister school to share ideas and work through dilemmas will strengthen the pilot initiative.”

During the celebration, both schools were awarded a total of $25,000; Michelin matched the grant from South Carolina’s coalition to advance work on the projects. Although initial plans called for only one school to be selected, these schools impressed the selection committee so much that Michelin’s matching donation made it possible to offer the grant to both, the coalition said. A third school that demonstrated tremendous promise for creating the school of the future – Fairfield Magnet School for Math and Science in Fairfield County was awarded a $5,000 grant for further planning.

“Supporting new educational programs such as the Inside-Out Centers for Learning is critical to the success of South Carolina’s long-term economic, social and political future,” said Dick Wilkerson, chairman and president of Michelin North America. “We are proud to invest in such an innovative initiative that will have a positive impact in Lexington and Anderson counties, two communities where Michelin employees work and live.”

The Inside-Out Center approach aims to change schools into personalized learning and service centers. Students will be taught according to their learning needs, while teachers work in teams to create innovative, standards-based and individualized instruction. The centers will use team teaching, community schooling, extended learning time and other different approaches including looping, where the teacher moves from one grade level to the next along with his or her class.

In addition, medical, mental health and dental services will be provided to children and their families. Officials said the idea is to turn the school “inside out” so that there is a seamless flow of community resources into the building and, in turn, the community is allowed to share school resources.

“This generous gift from Michelin demonstrates their commitment to public education, said State Superintendent Jim Rex. “Together, with partners like Michelin, we can truly transform schools of today into schools of the future.”

A selection team of six experienced educators visited the Anderson, Lexington and Fairfield schools in October to determine which were most ready for the challenge of creating an Inside-Out Center. Ratings were based on capacity and commitment, partnerships and community support, management and leadership and alignment with program goals. Both Nevitt Forest and Forts Pond were found to exceed all expectations and to be well prepared to move ahead.

“Investing in the Inside-Out Center provides an opportunity for companies across South Carolina to make a difference in the quality of the state’s public education system,” said Wilkerson. “This is more than a pledge to support the children who attend these schools, it’s also a positive step forward for a stronger economic future with a better prepared workforce.”

The South Carolina coalition has plans to hold additional fund raisers in Columbia and Charleston. “The initial grant award of $45,000 from KnowledgeWorks Foundation made it possible to get to this point,” said Avery. “Transforming public schools into centers that provide personalized instruction and healthcare services will require the additional funding from the selected school districts and other donors.
This project is important to South Carolina. As a state we have the opportunity to change the face of public education and develop a national model for replication.”

Hosts for the Upstate celebration were the Center for Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement (CERRA), The Palmetto Horizon Foundation, The Riley Institute, and The South Carolina Association of School Administrators. Individuals interested in supporting the School of the Future project should send their donations to: The Palmetto horizon Foundation, 234 West Cheves Street, Florence, SC 29501 and indicate “IOCL” in the note field of the check.

The National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization based in Washington, DC, to help lead innovation and improvement in the nation’s schools. South Carolina is one of the commission’s five state coalitions (along with Hawaii, Georgia, New Jersey and West Virginia) that were asked to redefine the education system and the teaching profession. Partners in the coalition also include the KnowledgeWorks Foundation – an Ohio-based education philanthropy committed to solving national education problems innovatively and with others.