EASLEY — McKissick Elementary School is beginning the transformation to the “McKissick Academy of Science & Technology” under the leadership of a new principal, according to a release from School District of Pickens COunty Information Specialist, John Eby.
McKissick is one of two schools the district is transforming through its Breakthrough in School Choice Initiative, which is focused on changing traditional schools into theme-based magnet schools, he said.
“McKissick Academy of Science & Technology—MAST—will be heavily focused on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education,” stated Eby. “Heather Touchberry, who is currently the assistant principal at Six Mile Elementary, will begin as principal on Dec. 18.”
“Project-based learning is vital to giving students the kind of STEM education that prepares them for the future and that is one of Mrs. Touchberry’s unique strengths,” said Dr. Danny Merck, SDPC superintendent. “Under her leadership and principal Melissa Terry, Six Mile Elementary has been a leader in our district in project-based learning. I think combining Mrs. Touchberry’s expertise with unique STEM programs and resources at MAST will have a powerful impact.”
The STEM curriculum at MAST is being developed around three pillars: Biomedical Science, Computer Science, and Engineering Design. In addition to the emphasis on project-based learning, MAST will continue the school’s Montessori program, expanding it for students in Pre-Kindergarten through 3rd Grade, said Eby.
The school will also feature a 1:1 technology program, with school-issued devices provided for all students.
“I am extremely excited about what MAST will provide to the Easley community next year,” Touchberry said. “I can’t wait to get to know the McKissick community and to create STEM opportunities that students can’t find anywhere else in our district.”
Touchberry holds a B.S. in Elementary Education from Winthrop University and a M.Ed. in Administration and Supervision from Anderson University.
She began her education career in education at Chester Park Elementary School of the Arts as a 3rd grade teacher, before teaching at Saluda Elementary School. She came to Pickens County in 2011 as a 4th grade teacher at Chastain Road Elementary School, where she displayed leadership skills as the school’s Lead Tech Teacher and as an Induction Teacher Trainer for the district. She also gave of her free time to students as an assistant coach of teams at Daniel High School and R.C. Edwards Middle School.
In 2014, she was hired as the assistant principal at Six Mile Elementary School. “Mrs. Touchberry is a rising star in our district, and I’m looking forward to great things for her as she takes on the leadership role at MAST,” said Merck. “She brings innovation and enthusiasm to everything she does, and that’s the mindset our students need to have as they prepare for careers in science and technology.”
Touchberry will be at the center of developing the details of the STEM education program at MAST in the coming weeks. More information about the school’s programs, curriculum, and enrollment procedures will be released in early 2018, said Eby.
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.