Sumter STEAM Charter Updates (7/1)


Big picture

Welcome to our 5th e-newsletter!

Welcome to the fifth community eNewsletter for Sumter STEAM Charter! One of the five core pillars of Sumter STEAM Charter is meaningful family & community engagement. Designed with you in mind, our hope is for this newsletter to serve as another communication tool to remain engaged with the community so you can be in the know with what's happening at Sumter STEAM Charter!
Big picture


After facilitating a seven-week, nation-wide search with Building Excellent Schools (BES) for its Founding Executive Director (ED), the SSC Founding Board of Directors invited the four named finalist candidates to visit Sumter to engage in a series of meaningful activities to include a private reception with 113 supporting stakeholders & local elected officials, a tour of the community, a visit to the proposed school site, an interview with local media, and an interview with the Board. Personalized videos featuring each candidate were produced and posted on the school’s social media platforms, which yielded a total of 3,553 views. Additionally, community feedback surveys were posted for a 10-day period that collected 171 responses. To mark the half-way point in our 100-day post-authorization period, the board is excited to share that it has unanimously selected Dr. Khalil Graham of Dallas, Texas as its Founding Executive Director.

A seasoned educator in the South, Dr. Graham has a strong track record of success in underserved communities across a variety of roles that included teaching and leading at some of the nation’s highest-performing charter schools. Dr. Graham taught secondary science at Achievement First (NYC), served as the Dean of Instruction at YES Prep (Houston), and was the founding principal at both IDEA College Prep Charter (San Antonio) and then Friendship Charter (Washington, D.C.) before joining the Aspiring Leaders Program in Dallas as its Managing Director. He holds education degrees from the University of Richmond, Sacred Heart University, and the University of Kentucky as well as receiving an Urban School Leadership Certificate from Harvard University.

According to Chairman Greg A. Thompson, “the board was very pleased with Dr. Graham’s unique educational background and set of professional experiences combined with a clear track record of success that best fit the qualities outlined in the desired leadership profile.” “Getting this right from the very beginning in every aspect is this board’s priority and we believe that Dr. Graham’s mission-driven and results-oriented approach makes him well-prepared for the challenges of building a high-performing charter school from the ground up,” Chairman Thompson says.

Dr. Graham shared the following: “I am extremely excited to be joining the Sumter STEAM Charter family as the founding Executive Director. Sumter is a beautiful city, and the potential to create life-changing outcomes for its students and families is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. I have such admiration and respect for the commitment to excellence I have seen from everyone associated with our charter school, and I look forward to learning and growing alongside all the talented individuals who are working to make SSC one of the premier learning environments in the country.” SSC’s founding school leaders will participate in the yearlong BES Leaders of Emerging Network Schools (LENS) Leadership Training to equip them with the needed skills & resources to deliver for the scholars, families, and communities they will serve. As part of the training, each SSC school leader will receive their own executive coach. Dr. Graham will be relocating to the Sumter community next month and formally assume his duties on August 1.

Big picture
Big picture

click below to view local media coverage of our finalists' community visit to sumter

Sumter Today: We meet the finalists for the lead position at Sumter’s new charter school
Big picture

60 days in...aN Update on SSC's "Next Steps" 100-Day Post-Authorization Plan

We have been picking up "steam" since being formally approved by the SC Public Charter School District in April to become Sumter County's first tuition-free public charter school! The board adopted Next Steps - a 100-day post-authorization action plan that includes six goals that span the following areas: the hiring of an executive director, the facility approval process, grant funding, community awareness, marketing & branding, and building board capacity. To date, the board has made significant progress towards meeting all six goals. Here is a quick update on where we stand in relationship to each of the six goals:

Goal 1 - Conduct a Nation-Wide Search to Hire an Executive Director

Status of Goal 1: Dr. Khalil Graham was unanimously hired as the Founding Executive Director on June 26. He will relocate to the Sumter community next month and formally assume his duties on August 1.

Goal 2: Facility Approval Process

Status of Goal 2: SCDOT has given its preliminary approval for SSC to acquire the 15 School Street property. SCDE Office of School Facilities will be visiting the proposed school site on July 1 to conduct its assessment. The approval of both entities is required in order to acquire the property and move forward with the issuance of a building permit. Once a permit has been acquired, the renovation of the facility can begin. Collins & Almers Architecture Firm (Florence) has been providing their design professional services throughout the process.

Goal 3: Obtain Grant Funding

Status of Goal 3: SSC applied for the USDE Charter Schools Program grant in the amount of $800,090 for start-up funding over the course of the next three years. Grant notifications are anticipated to be made in early July.

Goal 4: Community Awareness

Status of Goal 4: SSC continues to promote general community awareness through local media coverage and awareness sessions. We anticipate holding our first family preview session in the late summer, when scholar enrollment officially begins. Kona Ice, one of SSC's 22 pledged community partners, will soon be helping to share the story of SSC through specially-designed SSC ice cups.

Goal 5: Marketing/Branding

Status of Goal 5: New and updated content continues to be added to the SSC website on a weekly basis. Official logos have been approved by the Founding Board of Directors to be used during the planning & implementation year in addition to new "Ask me about SSC" t-shirts. Once the proposed facility is acquired, the Founding Board of Directors will be engaging the community in a new name for SSC's primary academy.

Goal 6: Strengthening Board Capacity

Status of Goal 6: SSC's Founding Board of Directors is committed to becoming a high-functioning board that exists to provide visionary leadership and support for its Founding Executive Director. Since coming authorized by the SCPCSD, SSC has adhered to the open meeting law and follows Roberts Rules of Order during its meetings. A majority of founding board directors will be attending the daylong SC Charter Leadership Summit on July 21. The Charter Alliance of South Carolina will be providing the statute-required charter board training on September 17. Recently, the Founding Board of Directors approved engaging with "Board on Track" to utilize an online platform to monitor board effectiveness and individual/whole group coaching to strengthen the overall capacity of the board.

Big picture

A Scholar's Pathway to Success at Sumter STEAM Charter

At Sumter STEAM Charter, we are dreaming BIG because the states are HIGH...after all, our scholars will only get one shot at a K-12 education!

The two images above illustrate a scholar's journey as s/he progresses throughout their tenure as a scholar at Sumter STEAM Charter. Our grade levels are grouped into academies to provide for a more personalized learning environment. The focus area and expected student competencies for each grade level are outlined. Scholars leaving the primary academy in grade three will be reading on grade level and on track to score in the 85th percentile on end-of-the-year benchmark assessments as they exit the elementary academy. Such off-the-chart achievement will help equip our scholars with the foundation to handle the rigor of 4-7 high school credit-bearing classes in the junior academy.

As scholars progress to the senior academy, many will finish state-required high school coursework (remember, we are a charter school that follows state graduation requirements) so that the focus during the second half of their junior year and full senior year will be to participate in either dual enrollment at a local institute of higher-education work-based learning opportunities (internship/apprenticeship) that lead to industry certification (s).

Big picture
Big picture

ssc welcomes Chris G. Neeley as the New Superintendent for scpcsd

SSC is delighted to welcome Chris G. Neeley as the new SCPCSD Superintendent! Our Founding Board of Directors looks forward to building a positive relationship with its new district superintendent as we work together with your team to provide an additional high-quality public education option to SC families.
Big picture
Big picture

SSC Formally Begins its Planning & Implementation Year on July 1, 2020

The Founding Board of Directors recently adopted its meeting schedule for the planning & implementation year, which officially begins on July 1. Regular meetings of the board will take place on the 2nd Monday of each month at 11:30 am at the CCTC Advanced Manufacturing Training Center (853 Broad Street). During monthly meetings, individuals wishing to participate in the public participation portion of the agenda may sign up the 30 minutes prior to the start of the meeting by completing a public participation card OR can email their statement (with contact information) to to be read aloud. Work sessions will be held as needed on the 4th Monday of each month at the same time and place. The board will hold its annual organizational meeting on the 2nd Monday of January.
Big picture
Big picture