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New South Carolina School Will Include Gullah Geechee Culture In Curriculum

The Sea Island Heritage Academy will receive an estimated $3 million in grant funding in the next three years.

A new South Carolina charter school will prioritize Gullah Geechee heritage in its educational curriculum. Located in Beaufort County, The Sea Islands Heritage Academy was approved by the Public Charter School District Board of Trustees in April 2023. 

Founder and Executive Director Alana Jenkins has familial roots in Beaufort County and saw a need for educational programs that embraced Gullah Geechee culture. The veteran educator believes that community-centered schools are a key in achieving educational equality. 

Jenkins has worked in the New York City public school system for nearly a decade, serving as middle school teacher, dean of students, and assistant principal. The B.E.S. Fellow says that the academy will take an holistic approach to education that considers the students’ unique experiences. 

“Our school will be an educational experience that affirms all parts of a student’s identity, teaching students of color about their legacy of resilience and strength,” Jenkins said on the school’s website. 

BLACK ENTERPRISE spoke with Beaufort County residents who shared their thoughts on the new school. 

Mahoganee Amigér and Andre Amigér are the co-founders of Responsible ARTistry, Inc. The certified teaching artists facilitate music camps workshops in the Beaufort county schools and integrate Gullah Geechee culture into their programs. Mahoganee, who met with Jenkins during the planning stages of the charter school, is “extremely proud” to have been a part of the process. 

“I’m excited for what the Sea Islands Heritage Academy will do specifically for our Gullah Geechee youth now and in the future. I’m excited that there’s a culturally relevant school dedicated to place-based learning specifically for our culture,” Mahoganee said.

Michelle Washington, who has been an educator in Beaufort County for 19 years, often uses Gullah Geechee stories and songs when teaching her kindergarten students. She said the new school allows for parents another option when it comes to their children’s education while also teaching an aspect of South Carolina history that is often overlooked in traditional public school curriculums.

“As a public school educator, I totally agree with incorporating our Gullah culture into the curriculum,” Washington said.

The Sea Islands Heritage Academy plans to enroll up to 150 students at the sixth- and seventh-grade levels and will add grades each year until it reaches the 12th grade. The school will be temporarily housed on Lady’s Island. A permanent site has not been announced, though it will be on St. Helena Island, the Beaufort County Post and Courier reports.

The Sea Islands Heritage Academy is currently accepting applications for sixth- and seventh-grade students.

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