Grantee Corner  |  School District Five of Lexington and Richland Counties

Boy looks through a microscope
Dutch Fork Elementary Academy for Environmental Sciences student looks at learning in a new way, through the lens of an environmental scientist

A group of girls pose in cat costumes
Spring Hill Magnet High School (Exercise Science and Entertainment Academies) students strike a pose during the “Snapshots of Broadway: An Original Musical Revue” performance

Three smiling girls sit at a desk with iPads
Seven Oaks Elementary MEDIA Magnet students use iPads to produce videos as an assessment and product of their learning

A female student paints at a desk
Irmo International High School for the Arts student begins with a background and collage materials as one of her many artistic endeavors at the new arts magnet

Students dance in a cafeteria
The International Academic Magnet at Irmo Middle School students participate in an interactive lunchtime workshop on African dance and culture led by a local university dance troupe

Headshot of Sara Wheeler
Sara Wheeler, District Five Project Director

School District Five of Lexington and Richland Counties is located outside Columbia, South Carolina, and covers 196 square miles. It serves nearly 17,000 students and includes 12 elementary schools, 4 middle schools, 5 high schools, and 1 academy.

Project ACCESS (Academics + Choice + Careers + Environment = Student Success) will create five magnet schools to promote a continuum of learning across K-12 grades. A range of themes will welcome students whose interests include science, technology, engineering, and mathematics; the arts; media; international studies; and more.

Dutch Fork Elementary Academy for Environmental Sciences will offer a unique opportunity that few other schools in the nation can pursue. The school’s theme “From the Mountains to the Sea” will integrate science and social studies and will engage students, parents, and the community by connecting learning to South Carolina’s rich history and varied geographic features (mountains, plains, and coast).

Seven Oaks Elementary MEDIA (mass communication, engagement, digital media, interactive learning, and academics) Magnet School will foster a range of content and digital literacies among students through activities, centered in real-world project-based and collaborative learning approaches in classrooms and at “work” in the TV/radio studios.

The International Academic Magnet at Irmo Middle School (iAM) will focus on international studies, leadership, communication, fine arts, and entrepreneurship. iAM will establish partnerships with local and state corporations and entrepreneurs to provide students with real-world examples of global citizenship. Using web-based technologies, iAM students will collaborate, share opinions, and research with peers in classrooms across the nation and around the globe and engage in performance-based assessments and authentic learning expeditions.

Irmo International High School for the Arts will offer a rigorous, standards-based curriculum that challenges students intellectually and creatively through arts-infused learning embedded in a global approach. Teachers will deliver much of the curriculum within their content areas, including concepts, issues, and themes through the lens of global visual and performing arts.

Spring Hill High School will feature five academies: entrepreneurship; engineering; entertainment (with schools of communication & broadcast arts, digital media & design, theater, and visual & graphic arts); environmental studies (with schools of animal science & agricultural studies, alternative energy technology, natural resources & environmental management, and sustainable solutions); and exercise science (with schools of fitness and wellness, movement sciences, sports psychology, and therapeutic studies).

The goal of Project ACCESS is to expand student and parent choice while enabling all students to pursue rigorous programs of study that meet challenging academic standards and provide preparation for college and careers. Engaging coursework will use digital tools and materials that deepen the learning experience to cover all content areas through a standards-based curriculum. Students will participate in real-world projects and tasks and will have exposure to college and career readiness strategies. Through all of this they will have access to role models and professional mentors as well as informed, collaborative educators who will help students showcase their learning.

Sara Wheeler serves as the MSAP Project Director. Ms. Wheeler has numerous years of experience in the field of education, many of these in magnet education. She has held a variety of positions from classroom teacher, magnet program administrator, and MSAP Project Director for two previous grants. Ms. Wheeler is K-8 certified with a concentration in middle years, K-12 gifted education, and secondary social studies. She has presented at conferences at the local, state, and national levels on a variety of topics; gifted education, magnet schools and programs, service learning, civic programs, Core Knowledge, law related education, and grant projects.

See MSAP Grantees Page