by Katie Morgan
February 7, 2017 @BRSOE

 Reframed, the question is, “Do WE want THEM to win?”

 I had the pleasure of meeting with Pickens County (SC) school superintendent Dr. Danny Merck last month.  During our meeting, we discussed his session on restorative practices for our upcoming event, Moving Forward Together: A National Summit on Schools, Communities and Law Enforcement.  Dr. Merck has served as superintendent of the district for the last three years and has been instilling a philosophy of restorative practices into both student and staff communities with great results.

He told me that he wanted to create a culture where both students and staff could overcome their mistakes, learn lessons, and move on.  I asked him how he had initiated that change.  Had he changed his discipline policies? Had he invested in restorative justice training?  He answered “no” to both of those questions.

 To the policy question, he replied that policy change wasn’t necessary.  You have to respect the policies and respect the data, he said, but the key is to frame both with a growth mindset and a restorative philosophy.  He has given his principals the latitude to do that.

 To the question about training, he replied that creating the right culture trumps training on strategies every day. 

Even with Dr. Merck’s commitment to restorative practices, he does not go easy on corrective discipline.  He still has critical conversations with both students and staff, but they are infused with 100% respect and 100% honesty. 

Corrective discipline takes place in an environment where the answer to the question, “Do they want me to win?” is a resounding “YES!”

Dr. Danny Merck
Pickens County School District, SC 





Know Your Starting Point

By Bart Teal @BRSOE
January 5, 2017

At this time of year, we set forth with resolve to make improvements in our lives. Whether it's health and fitness, financial security, or personal growth, the first step in any improvement process is to document your starting point. Only after you know your starting point can you celebrate the steps toward your goal.

The same is true with school improvement. You have to know your starting point. And while test scores and graduation rates are critically important, they are measures that tell a story AFTER the fact. What we need are measures we can use everyday that will help us improve those end results. For example, if I want to lose 10 pounds, I won't be able to do it by simply focusing on the scale every day. My everyday attention must be placed on what I eat and a my commitment to exercise daily.

In schools, we need a daily focus on areas critical to school success such as a clear focus on students and student support, a commitment to excellent school culture, actively engaging students in rich curriculum, integrating (truly integrating) technology in the classroom, ensuring school safety, working with parents and the community, and supporting our teachers.

It may seem hard to measure all of these indicators of success at once ... but it's not. We have a tool that gives schools insight into nine areas critical to school success through the eyes of administrators, teachers, support staff, students, and parents. This tool identifies school strengths and provides a blueprint for making positive changes where needed.

Perhaps most importantly, like most successful change programs, our program offers a supportive network of other school officials who have been through the process and are committed to delivering excellent education in their own schools.

This year resolve to know how your school is doing... really doing... so you can have a positive impact on EVERY child.


Save the Date!
June 12-13, 2017
Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center



 Nationally, there is a great need to strengthen positive relations between African-Americans, Latinos and other people of color with the institutions entrusted to advance, educate, nurture, protect and serve all citizens.  Building on the success of the 2016 National Summit, this Summit will provide communities with tools to create a culture of understanding and respect in their schools and neighborhoods.  By engaging educational leaders, law enforcement personnel, community members and private and public officials, community teams will build upon their strengths and create a plan for improving relationships between schools, law enforcement and the communities that they serve.

The Summit Planning Committee will be accepting proposals for concurrent sessions through March 15, 2017.  Submit your best practices today!

Summit Schedule-at-a-Glance

Submit Concurrent Session Proposal

 Click here for a review of the 2016 Program.  


Student Art and Video Contest

Submissions Due March 31, 2017

Download Contest Information and Rubric Here

Participating Conference Hotels

Hilton Columbia Center featuring Ruth’s Chris Steak House 

Hampton Inn - Downtown Historic District

Blue Ribbon Academy is perfect for individual educators looking to enhance their skills or groups of educators from a particular school or district working on developing strategies important to their school needs.

FOR THE INDIVIDUAL: Blue Ribbon Academy can deepen your understanding of an important topic while providing Professional Development hours or Graduate Credits through Kent State University.

FOR THE SCHOOL/DISTRICT GROUP: Blue Ribbon Academy can assist you in collaborative learning across a cohort group that is designed to quickly impact change in your school. All participants will acquire Professional Development hours or Graduate credits through Kent State University.

The Academy focuses on all of the elements of a successful school. You'll find an emphasis on Leadership Development, School Culture, and Student Focus. Specific courses are designed to have an immediate impact on your school. Whether it's technology integration, community and parent involvement, active teaching and learning, and improving overall student performance, or curriculum. You'll find a course that is right for you and your school professional development needs.

We also tailor our programs to meet your group's needs. Let us know and we'll put together a series of course that will take your school from good to great!


Continuing Education Units or Graduate Credit Hours Available


Contact us

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