The Riley Award recognizes the significant contributions made to public education

Hilton Head Island Middle SIC earns statewide recognition
Posted on 04/01/2019
HHIMS Principal Pat Freda with parent Shannon Bedenbaugh

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Hilton Head Island Middle School Improvement
Council recognized as South Carolina’s best

COLUMBIA – The School Improvement Council at Hilton Head Island Middle School earned statewide recognition today as the winner of a prestigious award recognizing accomplishments in parent and civic engagement.

The 2019 Dick and Tunky Riley Award winner was selected from this year’s five finalists by an independent panel of outside judges and announced at the South Carolina School Improvement Council’s annual meeting in Columbia.  Created in 2002, the Riley Award recognizes the significant contributions made to public education by the nearly 14,000 local SIC members who volunteer in the state’s 1,100-plus K-12 public schools.

“The Hilton Head Island Middle SIC has done outstanding work very much deserving of this statewide honor,” said SC-SIC Board of Trustees Chair Dora Leonard. “The work of our School Improvement Councils – involving all stakeholders – is so necessary to make positive and lasting change for our schools, our students, their families, and our state. The Hilton Head Island Middle SIC is a true example of such meaningful collaboration.”

Hilton Head Island Middle School parent and SIC Chair Shannon Bedenbaugh said the statewide honor was tremendously gratifying for the group.

“This award energizes us even more,” said Bedenbaugh, who has children at Hilton Head elementary, middle and high schools.  “It’s an affirmation that what we’re doing is helping students to succeed.”

Hilton Head Island Middle School Principal Pat Freda said SIC members have been determined and creative in their efforts to help students.

“Our Stingray Support Circle is an SIC-directed effort throughout,” Freda said.  “They seek out community volunteers for our mentoring programs, they strengthen our community partnerships and they gather and distribute clothing and school supplies for any students who need them.”

Hilton Head Island Middle’s SIC was one of two Beaufort County School District SIC’s among the five statewide finalists.  The other four finalists were the Hilton Head Island High SIC; Chandler Creek Elementary SIC (Greenville); Chapin Middle SIC (Lexington/Richland 5); and Flowertown Elementary SIC (Dorchester 2).

“We couldn’t be prouder of this outstanding accomplishment,” said Interim Superintendent Herb Berg, who attended the awards announcement in Columbia.  “Our SICs work hard to create a productive partnership between parents and educators, and to have two of this year’s five finalists from Beaufort County – as well as the statewide Riley Award winner – was wonderful to see.”

School Improvement Councils were established in state law nearly 40 years ago. Part of the Center for Educational Partnerships within the University of South Carolina College of Education, the South Carolina School Improvement Council provides member training, technical assistance, statutory accountability and other operational resources for community-based SICs in each of the state’s K-12 public schools.

The last Beaufort County School District SIC to win the Riley Award was Okatie Elementary School’s in 2014.

From the official SC-SIC news release:

“This middle school serves students in grades 6-8; a significant percentage speak English as a second language.  It has a poverty index of nearly 50%.  The centerpiece of this SIC’s work, begun in the 2016-17 school year, is the Stingray Support Circle (SSC).  The SSC is a school-based pantry of uniforms, toiletries, school supplies, household items and food items that are available, free of charge, to students and families in need.  In 2017-18, the SIC worked to expand and strengthen the school/community network around SSC to further support students and families.  The SIC increased the number of its SSC Facebook followers to over 350 and expanded its email support circle to almost 200.  As a result, the number of registered long-term volunteers at the school increased by 169 and SSC has been able to meet 97% of all needs presented including requests for bikes for transportation, furniture, clothing, and equipment needed for school sports.  The SIC successfully generated publicity for their work through electronic newsletters, a local magazine spread and a segment on a local news broadcast.  The SIC held a teacher coffee in the SSC pantry to raise teacher awareness about available resources for students and was able to fill many items on teachers’ classroom wish lists through community donations.  SSC doubled the number of students served in the 2017-18 school year, increased the reach of their Christmas bag distribution, added an 8th Grade Promotion Ceremony clothing drive, and distributed over 75 Stingray hoodies to students so that all students had access to spirit gear.  The SIC also raised community awareness of the challenges facing their students and their school in 2017-18 by holding several of their regular SIC meetings off campus in different community locations.