PEP Strategic Plan
Public Education Partners (PEP), Aiken County’s premier education foundation, is proud to announce its newest plan to engage community support for the 30,000 students and teachers of our K-12 public schools. During its 23-year history, PEP has worked throughout our community and educational system, building relationships within our schools, and developing a network of citizens. Guided by this 2018-2021 Strategic plan, PEP will continue its unique role as collaborator, convener, and resource generator, constructively impacting every school and tens of thousands of our county’s young people.
GOAL ONE: Early Literacy
Raise the level of school readiness for children entering kindergarten.
According to Aiken County Public School administrators, South Carolina’s assessment tool revealed that over 60% of Aiken County children entering kindergarten last year were not prepared to learn. While deficit may be due to many causes, research shows that a community can improve children’s changes of becoming successful readers before those children reach school age.
PEP will work with the Kisner Family Foundation to enhance its Tee Up to Read initiative, which provides books to preschoolers.With your support, PEP will partner with Aiken County pre-schools to enroll families in the program. Pep will also train volunteers to model reading to parents and children together. Kindergarten assessment results will compare program participants with non-participants.
GOAL TWO: Teacher Success
Encourage the career commitment of our teaching professionals by expanding opportunities for creativity, collegiality, and community support.
Experienced, motivated, and supported teachers are critical to the health of an educational system. Aiken County is immune neither to the national trend of young teachers leaving the profession nor to the high numbers of teachers retiring after years of service. While the latter is understandable and anticipated, the departure of early-career teachers with 3-5 years of experience must be examined and mitigated.
PEP will partner with the Aiken County Teacher Forum, the district’s teachers of the year from every school, to evaluate ways to encourage, support, and retain teachers, whose work is crucial to our community’s wellbeing and future.
PEP will examine a local model of teacher support and its potential for use in other schools, leading to increased esteem for educators as professionals. National and state mentoring models for early-career teachers will be evaluated for impact and usefulness here in Aiken County.
PEP will offer grants to teachers to provide them with opportunities for creativity in the classroom and to build strong bonds among their colleagues.
PEP will seek to equip teachers to be responsive to the social and educational material needs of their students through partnerships with local organizations and businesses.
PEP will research best practices and programs with proven results for teacher esteem and success.
GOAL THREE: Build up STEAM
Support and enhance the school district’s expansion of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math programs for a well-rounded education.
Aiken County has embraced the national drive to improve students’ performance in Science, Technology, Engineering, [Arts,] and Math (STEM / STEAM) subjects through the designation of STEM and STEAM schools. PEP will identify opportunities to enhance the technology available to STEM teachers and expand rigorous arts programs that foster the creativity, teamwork, self-motivation and goal-setting that underlie success in STEM careers.
PEP will support the implementation of the district’s model program in Area One for a unified sixth grade academy for all students.
PEP will work with the South Carolina Arts Commission to expand arts programs and to integrate the creative thinking processes they encourage into core subject areas.
GOAL FOUR: Strengthen the Organization
Solid governance and infrastructure are essential to PEP’s quality of work and long-term viability for engagement in our public schools. Building on our 23-year history and the development of this Strategic Plan, the board, staff, and volunteers will complete a comprehensive set of actions centered around management, board development, and capacity building.
Model programs with positive results exist at the national and state levels and within Aiken County. PEP will identify strategies that best use our community’s resources – human and financial –to build partnerships that will result in well-managed, sustainable initiatives. PEP will leverage local dollars through grant opportunities.
Every organization has a responsibility to look to its own health and governance. PEP has incorporated a fourth goal to build the strength of the organization so that the board, staff, and volunteers can continue to fulfill the important roles of convener, collaborator, and encourager of our public schools.
We invite you to join our efforts — together we can tackle today’s challenges and grasp the opportunities to prepare the next generation of Aiken County.