Posted: Friday, November 7, 2014
School Board Chairman Chuck Saylors looks on as Dr. Phinnize J. Fisher is greeted with warm applause at the dedication ceremony of the middle school named in her honor.
Hundreds of parents, students, administrators, community members, and business leaders turned out for the dedication ceremony for Dr. Phinnize J. Fisher Middle School, located at 700 Millennium Boulevard in the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research Park.
Former GCS Superintendent Dr. Phinnize J. Fisher, for whom the school is named, was the guest of honor. Dr. Fisher served Greenville County Schools from May, 2004 until April, 2012.
Superintendent Burke Royster commended Dr. Fisher for her leadership during her tenure as superintendent. “What may be her greatest contribution is the importance of relationships and teamwork,” he said. “As you walk through this school, you will see the work students do every day is based on them working together on projects, using each student’s strengths to enhance another’s weaknesses. It’s all about the importance of every person to the process and the product, and it is the cornerstone of Dr. Fisher’s philosophy and leadership.”
“My work in education was never about me, just as the dedication of this wonderful school is not about me. My work and this school have always been about thriving, dreaming children,” said Dr. Fisher. “To paraphrase an English musician and an airline pilot, Bruce Dickinson, children get bored easily. They have to move around and get their hands dirty, make things, dismantle things, fix things. This facility has spaces for middle school students to do just that. The design of this school allows for collaborative creativity. We have a great future to look forward to because the students in Dr. Phinnize J. Fisher Middle School will make sure we have a better tomorrow.”
L to R: Former Superintendent Dr. Phinnize J. Fisher, Superintendent Burke Royster, Board Member Megan Hickerson, Fisher Middle School Principal Jane Garraux.
Dr. Phinnize J. Fisher Middle School is the district’s first Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) focused middle school. The building was specifically designed to support a project-based learning curriculum. Its innovative design includes nine Learning Communities (three per floor). Each Learning Community includes two learning studios, a STEAM studio, a seminar room, two small group rooms, a digital lab, and a commons area. The school’s arts wing includes a music community featuring band, chorus, keyboarding, and ensemble spaces. The media center, entrance lobby, administration area, cafeteria, and gymnasium wrap around an interior courtyard, which features an amphitheater and outdoor classroom areas.
The studios, labs, and seminar rooms are designed with moveable walls and garage-style doors that can be raised and lowered as needed. Tables are designed to fit together to accommodate large or small groups. There is ample natural lighting radiating through the facility’s glass walls.
Additional features include a one-to-one student laptop initiative and a predominantly digital media center. The school has partnered with Clemson University for a faculty-in-residence program.
The building, which will accommodate 1,000 students when fully utilized, was designed to be used as a teaching tool, with the mechanical, electrical, and data systems exposed to view. Structural steel and precast elements of the building are also exposed so that students can see the engineering used in the building. The inaugural class consists of 338 sixth graders, and a grade level will be added each year to house sixth through eighth graders.