The city of Savannah’s rich history and unique landscape are an integral part of the curriculum at Susie King Taylor Community School. Savannah’s newest charter school uses what is called place-based education, an instructional model that immerses students in local heritage, cultures, landscapes, opportunities and experiences that connect students to their community and offer a foundation for curricular-study.
This year, Susie King Taylor Community School students have taken numerous field trips outside the walls of the school to learn more about science, history and other core subjects in their own community. One of the highlights was an all school field trip to Skidaway Island State Park (see picture above). The school’s 180 students had the opportunity to explore Georgia’s natural habitats. They also visited the Skidaway Island State Park Interpretive Center where they were able to see the different types of animals that are native to Georgia.
“That was important to us, because for a lot of our students that was the first time they had ever been to a state park,” said Dr. Latrisha Chattin, School Director of Susie King Taylor Community School.
Fourth Graders at the school visited the Massie Heritage Center to learn more about the school’s namesake, Susie King Taylor. Taylor was the first black Army nurse. Fourth graders also traveled to the Jepson Center.
Combined field trips with third and fourth graders have included a trip to Pinpoint Georgia to learn about the marshlands. They have also visited Tybee Island and Fort Pulaski National Monument.
Students in first and second grades visited local television station WJCL (see picture below) to speak with the station’s meteorologist as part of science unit on weather. The schools youngest students, Kindergarten and first graders, recently learned more about the local arts scene by viewing a performance of “The Nutcracker” at the Savannah Ballet Theatre.
“For a lot of our students this is the first time that they’re learning that these resources exist in their immediate community,” said Dr. Chattin. “You think of history being far off or far away, and our students don’t realize that they’re standing and walking through history every day. Not only are we giving them an educational background, but we are also giving them a sense of pride in where they come from.”
Susie King Taylor is a Georgia Charter Schools Association Incubator Fellow. The Kindergarten through fourth grade charter school opened its doors on Thursday, August 3. The school is located in the city of Savannah at the corner of 34th and Bull streets.
In addition to place-based education, Susie King Taylor Community School uses the Peaceful Education model through the CAPSLE (Creating a Peaceful School Learning Environment) curriculum. Through Peaceful Education, all participants in the school community will learn conflict resolution skills and demonstrate self-actualization as well as respect for and kindness towards each other. The school also supports students in designing and selecting learning experiences that are self-initiated, self-directed, and self-paced, giving the students the ability to choose how, when and where they learn. The end result is a learner who demonstrates mastery of content and excitement to learn.