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Community involvement, 'cultural enrichment' make JKE Berkeley County's 'best-kept secret'

Published Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Mardi Gras Math at J.K. Gourdin Elementary

With costumes, decorations, food and music, J.K. Gourdin offered a BIG EASY approach to mathematics on Thursday, March 21, 2019. (BCSD photo / Shyvonne Brown-Alford) MORE PHOTOS


If you believe a math event is something that might be scarcely attended, you obviously have never been to J.K. Gourdin Elementary.

More than 60 people attended the school’s Mardi Gras Math night last week, and administrators describe it as a success.

The goal, Principal Lorene Bradley said, was to engage entire families. That goal was achieved.

“About half of those in attendance were parents,” Mrs. Bradley said. 

Another aspect that made the night a success was the ability to expose students to things some might not otherwise experience. Like many activities at J.K. Gourdin (JKE), there was a focus on what Mrs. Bradley describes as “cultural enrichment.”

While under the guise of Big Easy ambiance, students, families and community members learned a variety of ways math performance is measured at JKE. Each parent in attendance received a copy of their child’s math inventory report to gauge math progress for the year. Those in attendance then spent the rest of the evening playing math games prepared by teachers, staff members and volunteers.

“Students received festive beads, tokens and books for attending the event,” said JKE Title I coordinator Donna Harvey. “A great time was had by all.”

Mrs. Harvey and Mrs. Bradley agreed that Mardi Gras Math is an event JKE will definitely look at continuing in the future. As a community school that serves as the pulse for the area around it, administrators believe such events are crucial to maintaining a family-friendly atmosphere.

"The school is the biggest thing in this community, and I believe we are able to personalize relationships with our families and children because of that,” Mrs. Bradley said.

If you ask staff members at J.K. Gourdin about their school, they are quick to inform you it’s the “best-kept secret in Berkeley County.” Mrs. Bradley credits the connection with the community and says it has an invaluable impact on learning that happens on the campus.

“They trust us to make the best decisions for the children,” she said. “They respect us, and we are respectful to them. Because of that, I feel very strongly that we serve some of the best children and families in Berkeley County.”

Brian Troutman
troutmanb@bcsdschools.net