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Photo Caption: C. C. Pinckney Elementary School Principal Annie Crandle leads teachers in a professional development session Aug. 12, 2014, to discuss the school district's goals for the new year.

August 14, 2014
Wallace McBride, Fort Jackson Leader

FORT JACKSON, S.C. (Aug. 14, 2014) -- The signs on the bulletin boards at Pierce Terrace Elementary School read "Under Construction" Tuesday morning. The hallways were mostly quiet, save for the occasional sounds of staff and faculty moving about as they prepared their classes for the return of students Monday.

Teachers at Fort Jackson's two elementary schools spent much of the day in group sessions, where they shared ideas on how to reach their goals for the coming year.

"Our theme for this year is 'Navigating Success in the 21st Century and Beyond,'" said Pierce Terrace Elementary School Principal Tammy Shadd. "We're moving toward integrating technology into all of our classrooms and making sure our students are not only prepared now, but also for the future."

"We're all about 21st century skills," said C. C. Pinckney Elementary School Principal Annie Crandle. "The students are collaborating and responsible for their own learning, while the teachers are facilitators to guide them into that learning."

Among these tools is a program called Pixie, a software tool designed to let students combine text, images and sounds to develop creativity skills. Shadd said the program is being used by kindergarten students.

"They're creating books and doing research," she said. "They're able to do much more than we could as young students in elementary school, because they're using technology -- and technology makes everything easier."

This year's theme is not aimed solely at students, Crandle said. It's also about getting teachers accustomed to using developing technology in the classroom.

"Teachers need to utilize technology in teaching the students, and students need to also use that technology," she said. "It's not about students just sitting in front of a computer, but having to work together to research something and create something new."

Shadd said the learning curve might be steeper for some teachers than many of their students.

"My 4-year-old can use my iPhone better than I can," Shadd said.

Tuesday's faculty meetings were intended to help teachers set professional development goals for the new school year.

"They were very energetic, enthusiastic and eager," Crandle said. "The teachers are excited about the new year because it's all about the students and making them successful."

Part of preparing for the new school year involved moving the second grade class from Pierce Terrace to C.C. Pinckney during the summer. Crandle said classroom space was the deciding factor in moving the class to the post's other school.

"The move up here was very successful," she said. "It was a team effort from administrators to faculty and staff and support staff."

Soldiers with the 165th Infantry Brigade help teachers move classroom items.

"They were very, very resourceful," Crandle said. "We also have the 171st Infantry Brigade supporting our schools and students. We're expecting a great year."