For the second consecutive year and in partnership with the University of South Carolina (USC), Dutch Fork Elementary School Academy of Environmental Sciences hosted the Inquiry Matters Conference on April 27.

For the first time ever, Irmo Middle School International Academic Magnet hosted the Secondary Inquiry Matters conference on the same date and time. The inaugural event focused on the district’s Professional Development (PD) work and collaboration with USC’s College of Education.

Inquiry Matters is a conference by teachers for teachers aimed at sharing the power of inquiry as an instructional tool in the classroom and as a means for job-embedded professional development. During the conference sessions, at both sites, teachers and students shared how they engage in inquiry within their classrooms and schools across the Midlands. The ability for USC’s College of Education and School District Five to partner for this event provides teachers, USC teacher candidates, administrators, and staff a day of learning focused on authentically enhancing teaching and learning; and gaining insight on why “Inquiry Matters.”

“We were extremely humbled and honored to have hosted such a well-established, well-known, and successful conference for teachers over the last two years,” said Dutch Fork Elementary principal Julius Scott. “This conference beautifully illustrates what is possible when we push beyond what is typical.”

Between both conferences, close to 300 teachers, teacher candidates, and administrators from across the state were in attendance. The elementary conference even welcomed participants from North Carolina.

“The Secondary Inquiry Matters Conference was a huge success for all involved,” said Irmo Middle School principal Cassy Paschal. “This inaugural event is a goal of our PDS-D vision. Teachers from all over the midlands came together to learn about implementing inquiry-based strategies in their classrooms in order to enhance instruction for their students. The partnership between USC and School District Five yielded a strong learning opportunity for teachers.”

Lexington-Richland School District Five partnered with the University of South Carolina to become the first ever professional development school district of its kind in the nation. Through the National Association for Professional Development Schools, professional development schools (PDS) nationwide are partnerships between university education departments and schools to prepare new teachers, offer faculty training, help improve classroom practices and enhance student achievement.

“The Professional Development School-District partnership between USC and School District Five is an opportunity to systematically collaborate to enhance teaching and learning for faculty, staff, teacher candidates, and most importantly PK-12 students,” said Dr. Shelly Curcio, Clinical Assistant Professor. “Inquiry Matters is only one example of how our collective efforts mutually benefit teacher preparation and learning within School District Five. We are truly partnering with purpose.”

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