SCS students shine at Showcase of Schools

ALABASTER – There was standing room only in the large meeting room at the Shelby County Instructional Services Center as about 400 people gathered for Shelby County Schools’ Showcase of Schools event on Thursday, Feb. 13.

As SCS Superintendent Dr. Lewis Brooks welcomed the audience, he mentioned that this year’s theme for the district is ‘together’ because “it’s the collective effort of everyone that makes Shelby County Schools the best school system.” He said the event, hosted by the Shelby County Schools Education Foundation, was an example of the SCS community coming together to support students and their teachers.

Guests, teachers and students were treated to breakfast prior to the start of the program at 8:30 a.m., during which guests got an opportunity to learn about what education looks like in the 21st century. The audience heard from Montevallo High School senior Grace Carr who will graduate in May with a 4.3 GPA. During her time at MHS, she’s taken a load of Advanced Placement courses in addition to participating in the district’s welding program. After graduation, she will go on to the University of Alabama where she plans to study metallurgical engineering.

“Over the years, I’ve seen the dedication and time our teachers put into making sure students succeed in the classroom,” Carr said.

Carr said she saw that dedication first-hand during her junior year when she had to take all of her core classes online because her class schedule at MHS conflicted with her schedule at the Career Technical Education Center.

“It was hard, but I received a lot of help from an English teacher who proofread my papers and did a lot of extra work to help me even though I wasn’t her student,” Carr said. “She inspired me to keep pushing through and to never give up.”

Guests were also treated to a musical performance by the Beatniks of Helena Middle School. The adaptive music education class is for students with special needs and is taught once a week by Lance Pruitt. Pruitt said being a member of the Beatniks gives the students a chance to showcase their talents by being a part of a performing organization. The students play hand drums, tambourines and egg shakers. Their energetic performance received a standing ovation from those in attendance.

Now in its fifth year, students in the program perform every year at the HMS band’s spring concert and they just recently performed at the Alabama Music Educators Association’s annual conference in Montgomery. Pruitt said the music program is now in nine schools throughout the state, but he believes it’s something that needs to be implemented at every school statewide.

To close out the program, guests visited classrooms that focused on various subjects such as social studies, science, math, English/language arts, college/career transitions, student leadership, social emotional learning, career technical education and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics).

In each class, school projects and assignments were on display for all to see. As guests made their way around each room as students talked to them about their projects and shared what they learned.

“This is what instruction looks like today – it’s hands-on learning,” said Kendall Williams, director of the SCS Education Foundation. “Seeing it helps people understand what hands-on learning really is.”