Pamela Lackey, president of AT&T South Carolina, said the state’s school system needs transformation, and the state should encourage innovation and risk-taking. She was the keynote speaker at the 17th annual Business Education Summit today.
By Matt Tomsic
Published Oct. 23, 2012
The president of AT&T South Carolina had one message — What have you done for education today? — for a room packed with Lowcountry educators and business leaders at the 17th annual Business Education Summit today.
Pamela Lackey, president of AT&T South Carolina
Lackey said roughly one-quarter of South Carolina high school students aren’t graduating, and the state needs to revamp its education system and promote innovation.
Businesses, Lackey said, need to partner with schools by hosting job shadowing or helping fund needed school supplies; schools, meanwhile, need to follow up with businesses that express interest in helping educate children or partnering with them. Lackey said she hears about businesses that meet with schools, but never hear back from the school about its needs after the meeting.
“I think we have a phenomenal opportunity right now,” Lackey said. “We’ve got lots of great economic development projects going on, lots of new jobs coming into South Carolina.”
The state also needs to create an environment that encourages innovation and lets teachers know that trying new tactics and programs won’t be a risk to them personally or professionally. Lackey fears too many schools and districts will view efforts to transform the education system as a threat instead of an opportunity.
She cited A.J. Whittenberg Elementary, a school in Greenville County, that is organized around science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, education.
At the school, 4 year olds through third graders work in six-week intervals on projects. The first project for the 4 year olds is putting Humpty Dumpty back together again.
“Everything they do is project-based,” Lackey said, referring to the elementary school and the teachers and engineers who work on the projects with the kids. “They say they are training engineers. They are not teaching students; they are not doing special projects.”
The Education Foundation gave its Business Education Partnership Awards during the event, awarding Alcoa Mt. Holly, Boeing South Carolina, Palmetto Goodwill and Francis Beidler Forest, Audubon Center and Sanctuary for their work with schools in Charleston, Dorchester and Berkeley counties.
The foundation also awarded the Zucker Family Champions for Education Award to Leslie Fellabom. She is a member of the board of directors for the chamber, a charter member of the Education Foundation and a member of the foundation’s Education and Development for Graduation and Employment Academies Committee.