A new school in South Carolina will incorporate Gullah Geechee culture into its curriculum.

New SC charter school in Beaufort County will focus on Gullah Geechee heritage, approved by Public Charter School District Board of Trustees in April.

March 28th 2024.

A new school in South Carolina will incorporate Gullah Geechee culture into its curriculum.
A brand new charter school in South Carolina is setting out to honor and embrace the rich heritage of the Gullah Geechee community in its educational curriculum. Located in Beaufort County, The Sea Islands Heritage Academy was granted approval by the Public Charter School District Board of Trustees in April 2023.

The visionary behind this initiative is Founder and Executive Director Alana Jenkins, whose family roots are deeply embedded in Beaufort County. Having recognized the need for inclusive and culturally relevant educational programs, Jenkins is determined to create a learning environment that celebrates the unique identity of each student. She firmly believes that community-centered schools are a crucial element in achieving educational equality.

With almost a decade of experience in the New York City public school system, Jenkins has served as a middle school teacher, dean of students, and assistant principal. She is a B.E.S. Fellow and has a holistic approach to education, taking into account the diverse backgrounds and experiences of her students.

“Our school will provide an educational experience that validates all aspects of a student's identity, empowering students of color by teaching them about their legacy of resilience and strength," shared Jenkins on the school's website.

BLACK ENTERPRISE had the opportunity to speak with residents of Beaufort County and get their take on this exciting development. Mahoganee Amigér and Andre Amigér, the co-founders of Responsible ARTistry, Inc., are certified teaching artists who conduct music camps and workshops in local schools. They incorporate Gullah Geechee culture into their programs and were thrilled to be a part of the planning process for the charter school.

"I am extremely proud to have been involved in the development of the Sea Islands Heritage Academy. I am excited for what this school will do for our Gullah Geechee youth, both now and in the future. It's wonderful to see a school that is dedicated to culturally relevant and place-based learning for our community," said Mahoganee.

Michelle Washington, an educator with 19 years of experience in Beaufort County, often incorporates Gullah Geechee stories and songs into her kindergarten lesson plans. She believes that the new school provides parents with another excellent option for their children's education, while also shedding light on a significant aspect of South Carolina's history that is often overlooked in traditional public school curriculums.

"As a public school teacher, I wholeheartedly support the integration of our Gullah culture into the curriculum," shared Washington.

The Sea Islands Heritage Academy has plans to enroll up to 150 students in the sixth and seventh grades and will continue to add new grades each year until it reaches the 12th grade. For now, the school will be temporarily located on Lady's Island, with a permanent site yet to be announced. According to the Beaufort County Post and Courier, the permanent location will be on St. Helena Island.

The Sea Islands Heritage Academy is currently accepting applications for sixth and seventh-grade students and is committed to providing a nurturing and culturally immersive educational experience for the Gullah Geechee community.

In a time when gentrification and displacement are significant concerns for the Gullah Geechee community in South Carolina, the establishment of this charter school is a powerful statement of preserving and honoring their land and traditions. It is a testament to the resilience and strength of a community that is fiercely proud of their heritage and determined to pass it on to future generations.

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