Letter: Making schools work for ‘the kids’

Story by Jen Jordan / February 10, 2016

As you may have read recently in this paper, we at Meeting Street Schools are in discussions with Charleston County School District to expand our public/private partnership from a single school, Meeting Street Elementary at Brentwood, to include Edmund A. Burns Elementary School. Contemplating the addition of Burns is logical given the extraordinary results we continue to see at all three of our existing schools serving under-resourced kids. Why does the expansion of our partnership make sense?In four simple words I can explain:

“It’s about the kids.”

Since starting the first Meeting Street school nine years ago, why have we put so much effort, passion, and a significant amount of our own financial resources into developing and constantly fine tuning a model that focuses exclusively on under-resourced children and their families? Because of one simple guiding principle: “It’s about the kids.”

Why did the CCSD board vote to approve our original partnership and agree to strongly consider adding Burns to the mix, despite concerns and pushback from some adults? Because CCSD also believes: “It’s about the kids.”

Make no mistake, the teachers are the heroes of Meeting Street Schools. So why do we need the autonomy to control our staffing plan, including making tough personnel decisions as well as rewarding top performers? Because that’s what it takes to be successful in most any organization, and it’s not about the adults:

“It’s about the kids.”

And let’s not forget that any successful school has involved families behind it. Our families want and deserve to be active participants in their children’s education, but schools haven’t always worked hard enough to make them feel included. Why are the Meeting Street families such enthusiastic participants in our schools, attending quarterly report card conferences, volunteering at our schools, and bringing the house down every Friday at our community celebrations? Because to the families we serve:

“It’s about the kids.”

Why should our community be willing to spend an extra $3,000 per student annually in under-resourced neighborhoods in order to offer a longer school year, an academic-based extended school day, preschool for all three and four year olds, two teachers in every classroom, and extra essential wrap-around services? Because this is what’s needed to give under-resourced kids an equal educational opportunity, and after all:

“It’s about the kids.”

Why should everyone in our community care deeply about this issue? Because if we want an optimistic future we can all agree:

“It’s about the kids.”

Benjamin Navarro

Founder and CEO

Meeting Street Schools

Meeting Street


The Post and Courier


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Our Schools

MSA – Charleston

Pre-K3 To 8th

Downtown Charleston, SC

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MSA – Spartanburg

Pre-K3 To 5th

Downtown Spartanburg, SC

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MS – Brentwood

Pre-K3 To 8th

North Charleston, SC

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MS – Burns

Pre-K3 To 8th

North Charleston, SC

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MS – Jasper & Beaufort

K To 1st

Jasper County, SC

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“Meeting Street Academy is my family. They taught me that I am valuable. I am an asset to the world…They asked me, ‘What is your dream?’ I had never been asked that before. The MSS community gives me the strength to pursue my dreams.”

— Kadelyn SteedStudent

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“We come into work everyday truly believing that our students are capable of achieving anything that is put in front of them. Here at MSS, students are provided the opportunity to achieve success through the facilitation of well-educated teachers, resources, and a responsive classroom school environment.”

— NikToshia GilesTeacher

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“MSA is a family. Once you’re in, you’re in. They said they would follow our kids from K-3 to college and they actually lived up to what they said they would do. Not only did MSA challenge my daughter academically but it also exposed her to new things that she probably wouldn’t have been exposed to at our previous neighborhood school. Our journey at MSA was exciting and rewarding. They actually walk the walk.”

— Tyeka GrantParent