Sumter STEAM Charter Updates (2/27)

Amazing Things Happen When Potential Meets Opportunity!

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Welcome to our First Community Newsletter!

Welcome to our first community newsletter! One of our five core pillars of Sumter STEAM Charter is meaningful family & community engaged. 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!

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SSC Application Submitted to SCDE & SCPCSD

Recently, the SSC 11-member planning committee submitted a comprehensive application to the SC Department of Education and the SC Public Charter School District that includes a 155-page narrative and 32 appendices totaling over 1,000 pages outlining our plan to establish a tuition-free, STEAM-focused public charter school in Sumter. Our “roadmap” would not be complete without the tremendous feedback from the community throughout the process. We are excited to move forward in the authorization process. In the next few months, our next steps include a capacity interview with SC Public Charter School District staff, a formal presentation to the SC Public Charter School District Board of Trustees, and a final public hearing in Columbia that will ultimately result in the approval or denial of our charter.
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Progress Updates: Turning a Vision into Reality

We’re picking up "steam" at Sumter STEAM Charter. Since officially forming in September 2019, our planning committee has been hard at work sharing our story, mission, and model for what will be, if approved, Sumter’s first tuition-free, public charter school. As we move forward in a quest to change the narrative about what is possible for the children of Sumter County, here are a few important updates to share with our community stakeholders.

  • Our planning committee has been regularly meeting since September, with the official incorporation of Sumter STEAM Charter taking place in October.

  • We have conducted dozens of deep-dive research visits into other public charter schools across several states.

  • Our three-month-long “Hopes and Dreams Listening Tour” concluded in December 2019 with extensive outreach that included: a detailed community needs assessment, 100+ presentations of our charter school proposal, participation in various community activities, focus groups, and community awareness sessions.

  • We currently have six sub-committees that are working on tasks including community outreach/support, curriculum & instruction, operations, policy, finance, and facilities.

  • We officially submitted our comprehensive charter application to the SC Department of Education and SC Public Charter School District that includes a 155-page narrative and 32 appendices totaling over 1,000 pages outlining our “roadmap to excellence.”

  • Our website went live on February 10.

Here are some of our next steps:

  • We are excited to move forward in the authorization process, which will take place through a three-tier process over the course of the next several months and culminate by May 1st with either the approval or denial of our charter request. Our planning committee is eagerly preparing for the next steps in sharing our story, mission, and model with our chosen charter authorizers.

  • We are also in the final stages of completing our 501(c)3 application for federal tax exemption status.

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SSC's Hopes & Dreams Listening Tour - The "Why" Behind our Charter School Proposal

Since October 2019, the SSC 11-member planning committee has worked diligently to share our story, mission, and proposed school model widely with the Sumter community. The image above shows an overview of our collective efforts and results that demonstrate why we believe there is a need for a tuition-free, public charter school in the Sumter community.
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SSC Celebrates Public Schools Week: February 24-28, 2020

Did you know this is Public Schools Week? Did you know that charter schools are public schools too? Public Schools Week is a designated week for administrators, teachers, specialists, teacher educators, parents and school board members to host events for their communities and reach out to lawmakers, businesses, and other community members to discuss the importance of public education.
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What do you already know about charter schools?

Charter schools are tuition-free public schools that operate on a ten-year contract called a “charter” in a manner that is transparent and accountable to the families and communities they serve. Charter schools have flexibility from many education regulations and are governed by an individual board of directors. Charter schools provide educators with the flexibility to operate different types of public schools that focus on specific missions. There is no cost to attend and no test-in requirements for students. Here are a few interesting facts:

  1. Approximately 7,000 charter schools are authorized across the United States and collectively serve 3.2 million students across 43 states & DC.
  2. In South Carolina, charter schools have been in existence since 1996.
  3. Currently, there are three authorizing options in South Carolina: the local public school district, the South Carolina Public Charter School District, and the Charter Institute at Erskine.
  4. Charter school students are held to the same standards as traditional public schools including state testing and report card ratings.
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Behind the Design-Thinking Scenes of Sumter STEAM Charter: Starting with the End in Mind

Several months of design-thinking have been invested in the proposed model for Sumter STEAM Charter. The two images above share the design of the school we are proposing to include our vision, mission, core pillars, core values, core beliefs, and desired core competencies for our students who we call "scholars." These fundamental principles were adopted by our planning committee as one of our first few tasks and have played an important role in providing strategic direction for the proposed charter school model.
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What does it look like to be a scholar 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 devoted to dual enrollment programming and work-based learning experiences. Under this model, we are committed to graduating scholars with a clear purpose!

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Upcoming Events

March 7 - SSC Informational Booth set up at the Reading in the Park Event (Memorial Park, 1-4 pm)

March 9 - SSC Planning Committee Meeting (11:30 am -12:30 pm)

March 19 - SSC Awareness Session with Highland Park Neighborhood Association (6-7 pm)

If you would like to invite a representative from the SSC planning committee to come out and share more with your group about our story, mission, and model...let us know by emailing

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Stay Connected with Sumter STEAM Charter School!

A world-class, STEAM-focused tuition-free public school has been proposed for Sumter County and plans to, if approved, open its doors in the Fall 2021.