Students at Thornwell Charter School will learn and develop in a rigorous, personalized academic environment that fosters a love for learning, in an individualized health and wellness program that promotes lifelong health, and in the Teaching Family model that helps children develop life skills which will enable them to succeed in higher education, in their careers and to be productive members of their communities.
The Thornwell Charter School Planning Committee (TCSPC) began formal meetings in the summer of 2017, but the idea of utilizing the campus and serving the Upstate Area of South Carolina on the Thornwell Campus has been discussed since the original Thornwell School closed in 2007.
Thornwell currently operates a South Carolina First Steps 4K and Early Head Start Program with over 120 students and a successful afterschool and summer Title I program. Thus, Thornwell has experience and support as a community education provider.
The TCSPC’s mission is to create a school that offers each student a personalized academic plan, an individualized health and wellness program, and a life skills program. Thornwell Charter School’s life skills program stems from the Teaching Family Association, an evidence-based model that focuses on cognitive, relationships, strength-based behavioral models, and is culturally driven by excellence. The Teaching Family Association is a complete toolkit for front-line practitioners with quality support and management.
The TCSPC plans initially to open a K-12 school with 195 students, 20 (never more than 25 students in any class) per grade level in grades K-5 and with 25 students in each grade level 6 through 12.
The educational, wellness, and life skills plans for Thornwell Charter School will involve comprehensive personalized plans that will require monthly meetings with each student to evaluate progress, to fine-tune goals, and to ensure all students are providing input and feedback for their goals. The school’s overall curriculum will be based on the Core Knowledge grade level standards. The school will ensure all grade level South Carolina standards are comprehensively taught and measured.
Each student will have an individualized portfolio that includes results of formative and summative assessments and both short term and long-term goals that are parent and student approved. The Thornwell academic support program for residential students is currently using the Read Right Program which promotes personalized learning and is a very effective, evidenced based program. Four teachers have been trained in Read Right procedures. This program will continue to be used and augmented with Core Knowledge Materials. Thornwell will also explore the expansion of the residential program to serve children from all over the state.
Thornwell currently has 76 students living on Campus and has facilities that could house over 100 students. The learning and developmental goals will be rigorous, yet realistic, and will require each student to stretch both academically, physically, and behaviorally. The school will employ a Data Specialist to assist with the maintenance of student records and student progress. A Teaching Family Consultant will be hired to train all teachers in the Teaching Family model and will be available to help the teachers with classroom management, student behavior, and the development of the life skills program. In addition, the school will hire a full-time Physical Education teacher/Wellness Director who will be charged with assisting in wellness goal setting and developing a wellness system that utilizes the comprehensive exercise venues on the campus. Beyond a gym that has a climbing wall already installed, the campus includes a track, walking trails, bike trails and a swimming pool. All students will have plans developed to engage them in a physical activity at least six hours per week. The school will join the South Carolina High School League and develop a wide variety of both intramural and interscholastic teams. The overarching plan is to develop students who are both physically, socially and academically excelling.
The Personalized Student Plan will foster continuous monitoring of academic and wellness goals, the development and implementation of healthy student standards, and the personalized involvement of students in their goal development and monitoring. Students will move at an academic pace to avoid and/or close academic gaps between students. The TCSPC believes the rigorous personalized program utilizing both academic, life skills, and wellness goals will provide a unique educational program for the geographic areas in which Thornwell is located and will appeal to parents seeking academic rigor in a personalized fashion as well as developing lifelong healthy life skills.
Location and Facilities
Thornwell Charter School will be located on the grounds of Thornwell, a 350-plus-acre campus with multiple buildings including a school building with eighteen classrooms and a performing arts center, a gymnasium, an athletic center that includes a weight room and locker rooms, athletic fields (football/soccer/lacrosse, baseball, track, and softball), a dining hall with a commercial kitchen, farm buildings and a swimming pool. The Thornwell Charter School’s facilities will need to be upgraded to meet the Office of School Facilities’ requirements, but the TCSPC has had an architect create drawings that can be viewed by the Office of School Facilities to help determine the renovations that need to be made. Financial arrangements have already been made to begin the upgrading process immediately upon approval.
Although located within the Laurens County School District 56 attendance area, Thornwell Charter School will serve students from other districts and may provide a plan for commuting students to live on campus during the week. Greenville County is experiencing tremendous population growth in the Fountain Inn area and that area will be one of the targeted areas for the school’s student population. Southern Greenville County is less than 30 miles from the Thornwell Campus, and the school will provide some student transportation to and from that area. Thornwell currently owns four state approved vehicles for student transportation.