Posted: Friday, December 13, 2013
Bethel Elementary Principal Brenda Byrd has been named the South Carolina Elementary Principal of the Year by the South Carolina Association of School Administrators. She will serve as the 2014 South Carolina representative in the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) Foundation National Distinguished Principals Program.
Ms. Byrd has served as principal for seven years, building a strong professional learning community resulting in teachers planning the curriculum across grade levels. She has developed strong and positive relationships with parents and the community, clearly apparent with the parent and volunteer presence at the school on any given day.
During the 2010-11 school year, Bethel Elementary applied for and was awarded the prestigious Palmetto’s Finest Award. “It was an excellent growth experience for us as we highlighted our school’s strengths and areas for growth,” said Byrd.
More recently, the school implemented an intensive Response to Intervention (RTI) program for at-risk kindergarten students. Due to the success of the program, it has expanded to first and second grades. Students take benchmark tests three times a year, and those served in RTI have their progress monitored every 15 days. “We have reduced the percentage of students qualifying for special education, and some have gone on to qualify for our gifted and talented program,” she said.
Through the school’s efforts as a Continuous Quality Improvement school, students create class mission statements and set individual goals that are monitored in their data notebooks. Classroom data centers track student progress toward their goals.
“My administrative team and I conduct regular classroom observations and evaluations to monitor school-wide initiatives and to provide valuable feedback regarding teacher performance,” Byrd explained. “Our teachers participate in monthly data team meetings to monitor formative assessment results and to identify best practices to address targeted areas for growth.”
Another outstanding asset created by Ms. Byrd is the development of the Extended Day Program. After school, students receive snacks, get homework assistance, engage in recreation, and use technology in the media center. With a weekly fee of $40, the program has generated about $340,000 over six years to use for instructional needs such as Promethean Boards.