Whale Branch is the first school to receive the honor from the SREB

Whale Branch Early College High recognized as a Platinum-Level Ready Certified high school
Posted on 09/19/2018
WBECH receives award from SREB

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Whale Branch Early College High School
earns regional recognition for academics

BEAUFORT – Whale Branch Early College High School has been honored as the first Platinum-Level “Ready Certified” high school to be recognized by the Southern Regional Education Board.

The SREB, a nonprofit compact of 16 states stretching from Delaware to Texas, cited Whale Branch Early College High for its outstanding teaching and leadership with SREB Readiness Courses.

The SREB said that after implementing math and literacy Ready courses, Whale Branch has seen more than a 30 percent increase in underprepared students meeting the college-readiness English benchmark, and success in Algebra I has reached an all-time high of 78 percent among students who took Ready for High School Math.

“This shows the time and effort we’ve put in to building the capacity for our teachers,” said Principal Mona Lise Dickson.  “And once we build that capacity for our teachers, we know our achievement will increase.”

Prior to recognizing and certifying Whale Branch, the SREB evaluated student achievement data over time and also conducted an on-site visit to meet with teachers and school leaders.

“Far too many students need developmental (remedial) education when they get to college,” the organization said.  “SREB’s Literacy Ready and Math Ready help address the readiness gap by improving specific skills and understanding for high school students.”

Dickson said teachers at Whale Branch Early College High meet once a week for professional development and to brainstorm additional ways of improving student achievement.

“The culture of the students is changing right before our eyes,” said Instructional Coach Shelia Cato.  “They’re taking their studies more seriously.  They know how to go and advocate for themselves because that’s all a part of the SREB training.  And it’s working.”

Math teacher Peter Burvenich said the school’s approach is raising the academic bar for students.

“It is about changing the mindset of teaching mathematics,” Burvenich said.  “Putting kids in the atmosphere of productive struggle in order to learn mathematics instead of it becoming just a memorizing process.  Give them harder scenarios, harder questions, and give them time to work it out.”

Photo:  From left, Whale Branch Education Technology Coach Estee Williams; Science teacher Pretel Simmons; English Language Arts teacher Freda McCanick; Band teacher Kathryn Cooke; Instructional Coach Shelia Cato; Dale Winkler, SREB’s Vice President for the School Improvement.