Charleston County School District
In 2019, Charleston County School District’s Acceleration Schools—a subset of schools on the state improvement list—were in need of significant support. Now, they are outperforming their pre-pandemic learning and outpacing growth for the district at large.
Over four years, Leading Educators has partnered with CCSD to bolster teacher knowledge and skill in math and English language arts, and it’s paying off.
About the Partnership
The Challenge & Opportunity
Charleston County School District, which serves more than 50,000 students across 1,000 square miles of coastal lands, is determined to educate and support every child to achieve college, career, and citizenship readiness. But to build on existing strengths and erase structural gaps that have historically disadvantaged students of color, leaders know they need to improve teaching and the quality of curricular materials.
In 2019, school ratings were on the rise, but nearly half of students had a below-proficient grasp of math and reading standards as measured by test scores. CCSD leaders also found that many teachers needed additional support to implement high-quality curricular materials, deepen their content knowledge, and better tailor classroom experiences.
In the fall of 2020, the district approached Leading Educators for a partnership to bolster teaching and strengthen students’ access to grade-level learning. Now, several years of data show that work is paying off.
- Acceleration Schools saw significant improvement in math and ELA state assessments from 2021 to 2023 despite national declines in achievement seen across the country.
- 78% of schools supported by Leading Educators in ELA surpassed their 2019 (pre-pandemic) state scores in 2022, maintaining progress through focused work on instruction.
Solution: Building a System for Excellence
Leaders have worked diligently to build the conditions and learning infrastructure for teachers to practice what they teach in collaboration.Read a Recent Feature
Behind the Change
Over four years, Leading Educators has helped Acceleration Schools design and implement ongoing professional learning and coaching for teachers tied to high-quality instructional materials.
As these schools implement vetted, common curricula, school-based leaders and instructional coaches participate in intensive learning, data reflection, and lesson practice that they can turnkey at their schools for other teachers in weekly sessions.
Simultaneously, Leading Educators designers and facilitators work alongside Acceleration School Leaders to set learning objectives, bolster design capacity, and monitor the set of supports that participating schools receive. All ELA and math teachers in Acceleration Schools participate in shared learning once per quarter alongside principals, assistant principals, coaches, and PLC leaders to strengthen content knowledge and instructional skill.
Partnership By The Numbers
100% of teachers
implementing high-quality instructional materials (HQIM) across Acceleration Schools
4,230 students enrolled
in Acceleration Schools
supported with ongoing professional learning in ELA and math
of weekly planning time and 60+ min collaborative PLC time
Meet the Charleston Team
Senior Program Director for Charleston
Alisha Watts Burr
Senior Director of Networks
Director of Content - ELA
Instructional Leadership Coach
Director of Content, Math
Dr. Britney Wray
Director of Content & Coaching, Math
Instructional Leadership Coach, ELA
Andrea "Fitz" Fitzgerald
Instructional Leadership Coach, Math
Associate Director of Networks
Alisha Watts Burr
Dr. Britney Wray
Andrea "Fitz" Fitzgerald
About Michael Freeland
Prior to joining Leading Educators, Michael served as a K-8 Common Core Math Subject Matter Expert for LearningList.com. Michael also worked in the DeKalb County Schools System, serving as a Coach and Curriculum Leader.
Michael earned his Master of Science in Education degree—majoring in Learning Design and Technology—at Purdue University, and his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Morehouse College. He is committed to providing opportunities for students in his community, leading college tours that have taken over 1700 students to tour local HBCUs. When not working, Michael enjoys traveling, spending time with family, and coaching youth football.
About Alisha Watts Burr
Before joining Leading Educators, Alisha was a special education math teacher and academic dean at Washington, DC’s highest performing charter middle school.
Alisha holds an A.B. in Psychology from Princeton University and a M.A. in Social Psychology from the University of Arizona. She lives in Maryland with her husband and two sons. Alisha enjoys spending time with her family, creating and enjoying good food, and traveling to sunny places.
About Reanna Patterson
Before joining Leading Educators, Reanna partnered with districts across the country to implement strong ELA practices. She was a contributing author of the EL Education K-2 curriculum and taught in schools in several different states.
Reanna holds an M.A. from Columbia Teachers College. She currently lives in Charlotte, NC with her husband, daughter, and dog and enjoys spending time at festivals and fairs as often as possible.
About Ikecia Sigh
Before joining Leading Educators, Ikecia served as Director of Math for Compass Community Schools in Memphis, TN. She also served as a professional development advisor for Shelby County Schools as well as a classroom teacher for Shelby County Schools in Memphis, TN..
Ikecia holds a Bachelor’s in Middle Grades Education: Math and Science from UT Chattanooga, a Masters’ in Curriculum and Instruction from University of Phoenix, and a leadership endorsement from Christian Brothers University. She lives in Huntsville, AL where she enjoys experiencing life with her husband, provides mentorship to high school senior girls through the AUM Foundation, and going for rides on her Peloton.
About Chavon VanHooks
Born and raised in Flint, MI, Chavon discovered her passion for education at an early age. She would always “play school” with her family and friends. That passion drove her to earn her Education Specialist degree – emphasis in Educational Leadership and Master of Education degree - majoring in curriculum and instruction both from Union University and her Bachelor of Science in Education degree – majoring in mathematics from Central Michigan University.
When Chavon is not changing lives through her work in education, she enjoys spending time with family, decorating, and solving puzzles.
About Dr. Britney Wray
Prior to joining Leading Educators, Britney was a dedicated teacher turned school leader. Beginning her career as a high school math teacher in Fairfax County Public Schools, Britney enjoyed seeing the growth in both student success and student mindset. After 5 years, Britney became a founding teacher at Washington Leadership Academy, a Tier 1 public charter school in Washington, DC.
At WLA, Britney grew from founding math teacher to math instructional coach and assistant principal helping the school achieve its Tier 1 status through her development of the math program. Britney enjoys designing and facilitating professional developments and has partnered with organizations across the country to help educators achieve success in their classrooms. Britney enjoys vinyl crafting using her Silhouette Cameo machine and all things Virginia Tech! Go Hokies!
About Regina Atkins
Regina joined Leading Educators from Shelby County Schools. She has been an educator for 15 years, serving as a teacher leader for the majority of her career. Throughout her career, Regina has supported colleagues become effective teachers that implement best practices and data-driven instruction.
She holds a B.S. in Education, a Master’s of Education in Reading Curriculum and Instruction, and a Master’s of Science in Human Resource Management.
About Andrea "Fitz" Fitzgerald
Fitz worked in the NBA for several years and entered the educational field thinking that it would just be "teaching math" but quickly learned that this work is truly about seeing students believe in themselves. Fitz earned a B.S. in Computer Information Systems from Carson-Newman College, a M.S. in Sports Management from Slippery Rock, and a M.A. from Cambridge College.
About Rebecca Dill
Prior to joining Leading Educators, Rebecca worked at a large community foundation supporting grantmaking across the Chicago region and an environmental organization leading coalitions of nonprofits, businesses, and governmental entities to protect natural resources. Rebecca taught reading in Ghana for a semester as a volunteer and has also volunteered as a running coach and an adult literacy tutor. She is currently an associate board member of a workforce development organization.
Rebecca holds a Masters of Public Service Management from DePaul University and a B.S. in geology. She lives in Chicago and enjoys biking in and out of the city and travels abroad to hike, scuba dive, and eat new foods.
About Kenneth Jeffers
Kenneth is a New York City native, proud Morehouse College alumnus, and also completed his Master’s degree in Sports Product Management at the University of Oregon in 2018. He currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia and enjoys reading, health & fitness, traveling, & trying new restaurants.
Kenneth is very excited to pivot into the education field, and has always been a huge supporter of transformative education. He is looking forward to creating engaging & enriching learning experiences for students. Joining Leading Educators perfectly aligns with his passion for uplifting the next generation of thinkers, creators, and leaders.
About Tameka Ellzey
Before joining Leading Educators, Tameka served as a district Professional Learning Coach/Advisor and Instructional Support Advisor at Memphis Shelby County Schools (MSCS). Throughout her 15+ year career in education, Tameka has served in multiple capacities within MSCS as an educator, master teacher, new teacher mentor/coach, Professional Learning Community (PLC) Coach, district Professional Learning Coach/Advisor - literacy (6-12), 9th Grade Academy Principal, assistant principal, and district Instructional Support Advisor – literacy (K-12) supporting both traditional and alternative schools in her hometown Memphis, TN. As a district Advisor, she served as an ELA content expert and provided K-12 literacy instructional coaching support, curriculum implementation, and professional learning to district leaders, school leaders, teacher leaders, and teachers improving literacy outcomes for K-12 scholars.
Tameka holds a B.S. in Education from the University of Memphis and a M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from Grand Canyon University with an endorsement in Administrator Prek-12. Tameka lives in Cordova, TN with her husband and children. She loves traveling, making memories with loved ones, and encouraging others to live life to the fullest.
Learn About More Partnerships
Charleston is just one of dozens of partnerships across the country that are pushing the boundaries of what school can offer students. Learn more about how we customize our supports to meet the needs and strengths of visionary districts.