1. Will Riverwalk Academy continue with PBL?
Yes. Our charter is built on the premise of PBL (Project-Based Learning). In previous years, the school has not had consistent PBL training, but that is changing. An expert in the field, who is familiar with the Buck Institute for Education (BIE) understanding of PBL, has been retained to conduct PBL training throughout the school year. Further, we have secured a PBL Coach who will work and be available daily within our school. The PBL trainer will work closely with our PBL Coach to ensure that PBL is being implemented correctly. Moving forward into next school year, we are embracing PBL at a deeper level.
2. Is conscious based discipline gone, and if so, is there an expressed discipline policy?
Conscious Discipline is not a policy, it is a classroom approach. Discipline and classroom behavior management are not one in the same. Based on data gathered, Conscious Discipline simply has not worked for our school. The South Carolina Charter School District requires the administration to review discipline practices and implement procedures to reduce behaviors so that students can work in an environment conducive to learning. In an effort to assist teachers with classroom management and to address their concerns, Riverwalk Academy will be implementing a PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports) model. We have training that will take place this summer and a PBIS Coach that will be working intensively with all staff on this program. Not only will PBIS allow teachers to effectively monitor students, but it will offer a unique component to monitor our staff so the administration can more effectively provide support.
3. Is the open classroom style going away?
No. A proposal to add accordion-style walls is being brought before the Board to address instructional and scheduling concerns. The wall is movable and will be utilized when more focused instruction needs to take place. It is an enhancement to the instruction and not something to take away from the PBL model.
4. Will teachers and staff be training on Friday afternoons, and if not, will there still be half days on Fridays?
Yes and yes. Fridays are reserved for Professional Development (PD) for Riverwalk teachers. The administration has already started planning the PD calendar for the upcoming school year. This is a vital component of our schedule as it allows us to focus on important topics and training to help ensure that our school runs efficiently. The school will continue to dismiss at 12:30 pm on Friday.
5. What will the school hours be for 2017-18?
The leadership team has discussed moving the start time for school to 8:00 AM for the 2017-2018 school year. This change will give us 30 additional minutes of instructional time. We will still be dismissing at 3:05 PM. This extra 30 minutes is critical, especially as we add upper grades and need to account for seat time. This change has been brought before the Board.
6. Does Riverwalk have to adhere to the May 1st deadline set forth in S.C. Code Ann. Section 59-25-410? What is an at-will agreement?
No. Pursuant to the South Carolina Charter Schools Act, except as otherwise provided in the Act, “a charter school is exempt from all provisions of law and regulations applicable to a public school, a school board, or a district.” S.C. Code Ann. Section 59-40-50(A). Additionally, Riverwalk Academy is not subject to the provisions of the Teacher Employment and Dismissal Act, including Section 59-25-410, which provides that public school districts must inform employees annually before May first regarding reemployment for the ensuing year.
An at-will employment agreement means that an employer can choose to non-renew or terminate an employee at any time for any or no reason, except as prohibited by applicable law.
7. Are all of your teachers certified?
As a school, we strive to hire certified and qualified teachers.
According to Section 59-40-50(B)(5) of the South Carolina Charter Schools Act, which pertains to teacher certification and flexibility, Riverwalk Academy, in its discretion, may hire noncertified teachers in a ratio of up to twenty-five percent of its entire teacher staff. However, a teacher teaching in the core academic areas as defined by the federal No Child Left Behind law must be certified in those areas or possess a baccalaureate or graduate degree in the subject he or she is hired to teach.
In addition, Riverwalk Academy has teachers who are undergoing the PACE program. These are professionals who hold a degree in a specific area, such as art but did not complete a traditional teacher program. These professionals take part in an intense training through the State Department of Education, along with in-class experience, to obtain their teaching license in the area in which they hold a degree.
8. Will Riverwalk Academy offer transportation for students?
We do not have a bus system in place at this time.
9. Will Riverwalk Academy offer a pre-K program?
At this time, Riverwalk Academy’s charter is for K-12th grade. The leadership has discussed the possibility of adding a pre-K program, but we do not have a timeframe in which this will be able to occur.
10. When will the gym and/or the next phase of construction begin?
The leadership team has met with the financing agent and has started discussions regarding the next phase of construction. These discussions are still in their initial stages and no timeline has been set. However, the leadership team is scheduled to have additional meetings with the financing agent and updates will be given as they are made available.
11. Will Riverwalk Academy serve cafeteria-style lunches?
There are no discussions on acquiring a cafeteria-style lunch program. We do offer a hot lunch option, which allows parents to purchase from various vendors. These lunches are delivered to the school and served to your child(ren) during their lunch period. These options and the link to order will be on our website for the upcoming school year once all plans are finalized.
12. How do you plan to improve academics at Riverwalk Academy for the 2017-18 school year?
Our administration has been working with a former SCPCSD (South Carolina Public Charter School District) employee who was responsible for ADEPT and Teacher Accountability to create and implement a classroom observation tool, as well as a lesson plan format for teachers to utilize. Both of these initiatives will assist administration and coaches with identifying areas of needs for our teachers.
In addition, Riverwalk Academy is implementing an RTI (Response to Intervention) Team. This team will consist of three (3) certified teachers who will work intimately with teachers to ensure that proper interventions are in place for struggling students. The team will work with our gifted students to challenge and enhance their academics.
Further, students will be working on MAP Skills Navigator, which is a program that utilizes the data from MAP testing to assist students with areas of need. Map Skills Navigator will replace iReady, with the objective to have consistency with the testing and practice sessions.
Moreover, the additional 30 minutes added to the school day will also allow teachers more time for instruction.
13. Will Riverwalk Academy be adding additional elective classes?
Yes. Leadership has discussed additional elective courses. No final decisions have been made at this time on what those classes will be. Updates will be posted on Riverwalk’s website as we finalize this area.
14. Will teachers be using S.C. state standards?
Yes. We adhere to the same state standards as traditional public schools. Our teachers are expected to use the current South Carolina state standards to guide their instruction, along with student data.
15. What methods of communication will the school use to keep parents informed?
The Riverwalk Academy website should be the first place for parents looking for school-wide information. Our Marketing Director works diligently to ensure that information is up-to-date. There will also be a weekly update sent via email (newsletter). Please be sure to sign up on our website to receive this newsletter.
Classroom information will be available through grade level websites and emails. Your child’s teacher(s) will be able to give you more information during the first week of school.
16. How can parents/guardians keep up with grades?
Parents are given access to the Parent Portal of PowerSchool. Information on your username and password can be obtained from Mrs. Mabey, Riverwalk Academy’s PowerSchool Administrator. This can be accessed via the app or the internet.