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Free Lessons Offered to District Downtown Students

Free Swim Lessons for City Students
Posted on 07/01/2019
Swim Lessons

Students at Burke High School, R.B. Stall High School, and Simmons-Pinckney Middle School (SPMS) took part in the “Kids Teaching Flood Resilience” (KTFR) community-based action research initiative during the 2018/2019 school year. That learning continues into this summer with free swim lessons for students.

KTFR was developed by Dr. Merrie Koester, a science literacy specialist and teacher educator for the University of South Carolina Center for Science Education. The project, now entering its fourth year, began as a way to provide science students in flood prone areas with resources they can use before, during, and after an extreme weather event.

Koester specializes in designing culturally responsive, arts-integrated curriculum that engages students who have been historically marginalized in STEM education and careers. She was inspired to build KTFR was when she attended multiple public meetings to address the issue of flooding in Charleston. She began to question how she could implement this important local issue into the classroom setting.

“Middle and high school students can feel particularly alienated from the study of science,” said Koester. “They often think of science as something that is done to them rather than for or with them. As an artist myself, I long ago began teaching [science] through drawing and storytelling. KTFR lends itself to many kinds of artistic and communicative expressions, like music video, theatre, and media arts. Previously failing students can become highly engaged when science is taught through the arts. ”

From 2017 - 2019, in partnership with community STEM mentors and civic leaders, and with grants to pay for professional artists, Koester developed implemented KTFR instruction at SPMS, and Burke. During the 2018 – 2019 school year, she also worked with ESOL teachers at Stall High School to develop a bilingual KTFR project.

“KTFR focuses on ‘Educational Vulnerability’,” explained Koester. “Not having access to or awareness of knowledge can make one more vulnerable to harm. Embedding the science of hurricanes, place-based awareness of why and when a neighborhood floods, and hurricane preparedness behaviors into the school curriculum leads to a kind of resilience that can be shared through artifacts that students can creatively make.”

Swimming and personal water safety are key components of this outreach.
“According to the USA Swimming Foundation, close to 80 percent of children in low income households do not know how to swim,” said Koester. “This is dangerous to students in Charleston because it’s so prone to flooding and hurricanes.”

Lt. Col. Shannon Scaff, a former United States Coast Guard (USCG) rescue swimmer, shared with Koester that the City Emergency Management Team is most worried about ‘hurricane apathy’.

“What has been determined is most kids see a hurricane as a day off from school and no one in the family takes it seriously,” said Koester.

Last fall, Scaff, who now serves as Director of Emergency Management for the City of Charleston, worked with Burke teachers Peter Locher and Benjamin Plants to convey the message that the number one cause of death from a hurricane is drowing.

Scaff arranged for ninth-grade students at Burke to experience the simulation of helicopter rescue of a trapped flooding victim. With support from City aquatics manager, J.J. Ayers-Millar, and the Herbert Hasell Pool head swim instructor, Chad Wyatt, free community swim/water safety lessons will be offered

Donald Cameron, President of the Charleston Housing Authority, has also stepped up to ensure that families in Gadsden Green know of this important personal water safety opportunity Swim lessons will be offered Monday through Thursday from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Herbert Hasell Pool, located at 265 Fishburne Street, in downtown Charleston.

A new KTFR program is set to begin at Morningside Middle this fall with interdisciplinary eighth-grade explorations about wind impacts on stick-built

For more information about Kids Teaching Flood Resilience, visit the website at

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