Today, Moultrie Middle School will begin the 2019-20 school year with a new principal and 300 new seats available in nine new classrooms, three new science labs and several upgraded teacher lounges. The Moultrie Middle School expansion is one of several District 2 projects in Charleston County School District's (CCSD) Phase IV Capital Program.
Anita Huggins was named Executive Director of School Support and Principal of Moultrie Middle School in June 2019. Huggins' family lives in Mount Pleasant and she has worked for Charleston County School District (CCSD) for over 20 years. She shared that she is excited to work in the community in which she lives and raises her three children. She said she has been very humbled by both the community and staff's support during her transition to Moultrie Middle.
“Teachers and students really are my biggest passion. I’ve spent most of my career working with teachers, on-boarding new teachers, recognizing great teaching and helping support teachers when they need that support. So being back in an environment where I can work with teachers every day to really change the future for kids is really my passion," Huggins said.
Huggins is looking forward to continuing the superintendent's vision of excellence at Moultrie Middle School to include a rigorous learning environment for students and high expectations for both students and the staff. Moultrie Middle School staff anticipates nearly 900 students for this school year. Huggins said she used to think she'd teach high school AP English, but she is thrilled for the opportunity to be around middle schoolers.
“They are unique, kind individuals who are really at a place where you can influence them greatly," she said.
Each of Huggins' children will attend different CCSD Mount Pleasant Schools this fall. Her youngest daughter, Emerson, will be a fourth grader at Belle Hall Elementary, her son, Ashyr, will be a seventh grader at Laing Middle School and her daughter, Jenna, will be a freshman at Wando High School. Huggins shares that as a mom she's excited her new position will allow her to watch the work the District 2 Constituent School Board and Board of Trustees is doing and planning for the area.
"I believe Charleston County is one of the best districts nationally just from my work at the district level and seeing all the cutting edge things that Gerrita (Postlewait) has brought here. Everything from a great building staff to providing vigorous learning opportunities for students. She’s an exceptional leader, has really set the bar high for what we’re doing here," Huggins said.
Huggins continued by saying that access and opportunity are critical to a student's success and that schools must make sure teachers have the tools and resources they need. She said nothing excites teachers a lot of times, more than having a creative new space in which to work and engage kids. She shares that the school's expansion will allow for many more opportunities and that they can't lose when they are providing those to learners. She is thankful the district prioritized their school's learning space.
The expansion project design was completed in April 2018 and construction began in September 2018. The expansion adds 19,350 square feet to Moultrie Middle School. The budget for the project is $13.2 million, accounting for the building supplies, classroom furniture, lighting materials, and more.
"This expansion really provides the cutting edge technology, state of the art spaces, with really some sophisticated spaces for students to learn and that is critical to provide that access and opportunity to students," she added.
Reggie McNeil, Executive Director of Capital Programs for Charleston County School District, shares that CCSD goes through a rigorous program with their Operations Planning Staff and Learning Services Departments. He shared that four years ago they met to discuss what the district would need as far as facilities in the future to meet enrollment projections, and in the area they it was believed there would be more students attend Moultrie Middle School.
Through that planning process, the district determined the number of seats, classrooms and science labs they would add by equally dividing among the three grade levels. McNeil shared that based on the number of students in the school, the district allocates more teachers and support staff. Huggins said at this time they've hired three more faculty for the expansion and that they'll see most of the influence of the new numbers in the sixth grade.
"The Building Program, everything that we do, we build facilities that are state of the art. So we try to bring in more natural light. We design the interior spaces so that we can have furniture in there that is most conducive to learning and teaching," McNeil explained.
He shared that they even went as far with this project as adding more monitors in the science labs because the former principal and staff at the school explained students couldn't see the board on both sides of the classroom. They updated the project to benefit the learning environment so now you can see the monitors from any seat in the class room.
McNeil explained since the school was built in 2009, it was very difficult to find the same color and cut of brick 10 years later for this construction project. But, he said thanks to the vision of Glick Boehm, the architect working on the project, they selected one that closely matched the exterior of the existing building.
"When we see people driving down Coleman Boulevard and they look at Moultrie, they can’t really tell that there’s been an expansion here. They’re going to need to come inside to be able to actually see it," he said.
Huggins said that with new construction, McNeil's team drills down on every detail, even to the basic furniture. All of the new science labs, classrooms and teacher lounges are equipped with new tables and seating picked out specifically for their environment.
"You will see more personalized learning spaces for kids, so you’ve got desk with wheels where students can move around and collaborate more often," Huggins said. "And based on what research and data tells us about how kids learn, they can think more critically and a lot of times being engaged collaboratively helps them think more critically and allows them to analyze more. So, the spaces are really conducive to personalizing learning for kids and that’s really critical to our success here.”
Moultrie Middle School students will finally be able to enjoy their new classrooms, labs and lounges as the school year begins today. For more information on this project and other CCSD Capital Programs, visit ccsdschools.com/divisions/operations/capital_programs.