Kaizen: A Japanese business philosophy of continuous improvement in working practices and personal efficiency and effectiveness.
If you’ve ever had the opportunity to walk through the doors of SC Whitmore School and meet the educators, staff, and leadership of this virtual high school you wouldn’t be surprised that they’re the living example of “kaizen”. This statement is noted in big bold letters throughout their workspace to encourage just that—excellence on all levels.
SCWS was founded in 2011 by a South Carolina parent, who from firsthand experience knew that virtual education was an effective way of learning for many students. SCWS blends one on one mastery based instruction with an alternative learning experience (hosted fully online) that benefits over 400 students all across the state of South Carolina.
John Loveday, a traditional brick and mortar teacher turned virtual teacher since 2008, transitioned into virtual school administration in 2011. Mr. Loveday has been with SCWS since 2013. In 2015, Mr. Loveday was named principal and opened the new SCWS facility in June of this year in Columbia, SC. I had the opportunity to sit down with Mr. Loveday and was immediately impressed by his vision and his high regard for his students and staff. He not only acts as an effective school leader for his team and student body, but constantly pushes all of SCWS faculty and staff to continuously improve their unique opportunity serving students in a non-traditional setting.
When I had the opportunity to visit the new SC Whitmore School space this week I was immediately welcomed by smiling faces and upbeat attitudes by staff. I was toured through spacious conference rooms for students—lined with motivating college pennants—and eclectic “think tanks” where educators and staff are encouraged to flex their creative muscles. We wasted no time jumping into the most pressing question of the hour. What is it exactly that makes SCWS unique? John Loveday says it’s simple. “We’re unique because we were founded by a parent that experienced firsthand the effectiveness virtual education. We intentionally control our school growth, in order to provide more individualized support for students. Students are able to work on their own timeline, either to get ahead or take advantage of more time to complete work at their own pace. We’re different in that we have a focus on mastery of each lesson, in order to avoid gaps in learning. We offer students much more flexibility and freedom in their daily academic routine. In exchange students must take ownership of their education.” Mr. Loveday says this model “sets students up to be successful in every lesson, in every course, every time”.
They’ve recently received a substantial achievement accolade, too. SC Whitmore School had the greatest increase in South Carolina in their mean SAT composite score from 2015 to 2016. The scores were determined based on graduating seniors who took the SAT during their senior year. From 2015 to 2016, SCWS saw an increase of 231 points in their SAT composite score.
To learn more about their SAT achievement, follow this link for the full release.
So what is it like to be a virtual high school student at SCWS? Students can work anytime—really. As long as students are committing five days a week to their coursework they’re able to log in at any time of day to submit assignments and engage with their teachers. SCWS also works to build their student culture with face to face monthly field trips to the aquarium, fair, or pizza parties at the park. Mr. Loveday believes it’s important for all SC Whitmore School students to feel like they are a part of a strong student body, even if they receive instruction online.
With almost 30 faculty and staff members, including three school counselors to help support their 425 students, SCWS understands the benefits of having a smaller school with a more individualized approach. With over 200 students on the wait list at SCWS, there is clearly a demand for the unique high school experience that they offer.
If you’d like to learn more about SC Whitmore School, please call 866-478-6416 or visit their website at scwhitmoreschool.org. You may also follow SCWS on Twitter @SCWS1 or on Facebook.