Whale Branch Early College High School receives $100,000 grant to create high-tech center

March 1, 2011 

  • The Beaufort County Board of Education on Tuesday approved a new middle school curriculum for reproductive health education and pregnancy prevention called "It's Your Game ... Keep it Real."

    The curriculum change is funded by a federal grant. The program emphasizes abstinence and has been shown to delay sexual behaviors among adolescents, according to the school district.

    The change has been endorsed by middle school principals, school improvement councils and the district's state-mandated Comprehensive Health Education Advisory Committee.

A $100,000 grant from a global company will create a high-tech center to enhance science and technology education at Whale Branch Early College High School in Seabrook.

Beaufort County's newest high school will house the first RM "Reimagining Education and Learning" classroom in the United States, superintendent Valerie Truesdale announced Tuesday.

The first REAL centers are in England and Australia, she said.

Kevin Pawsey, CEO of RM Education, offered the donation in a letter to Truesdale.

"I would like to commend you on your bold strides towards transforming a community by using technology and setting high expectations for at-risk students," he wrote. "We are also very impressed and intrigued by your partnerships with colleges and other service providers, which allow you to provide a comprehensive approach to learning challenges."

RM, headquartered in the United Kingdom, develops educational tools, technology and services used by school districts around the world. It focuses on the point where technology and education meet and the ability of technology to improve teaching and learning, according to its website.

Truesdale is among a few U.S. educators who serve on an advisory board for the company.

The donation will provide Whale Branch High with equipment and hardware and software, as well as furniture tailored to the technology. For example, Truesdale said a computer might be built into a desk.

"It's pretty exciting," she told the Board of Education when it approved the donation. "I can't wait until you all see it."

The high school already has an emphasis on technology. The district provides Whale Branch students with portable computers they use both in class and at home. Some of the students' textbooks are digital.

Officials have said they hope the individual computers contribute to the college atmosphere the district is creating at the school. The school has an "early college" magnet program that allows students to earn credits toward an associate degree or certificate through the Technical College of the Lowcountry while still in high school.

Truesdale said the donation does not require the district to purchase any equipment. The company does ask that it open the school's doors to visitors across the nation who want to see the REAL center.

Board member Earl Campbell, who represents the Whale Branch area, said he is pleased such visitors will bring national attention to the school.

"There are a lot of good things going on at that school," he said.

The district expects the equipment to arrive this month and has scheduled a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the center for 10 a.m. April 8.

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