Marlboro and Greenwood join Rural Innovative Schools initiative

PowerPoint PresentationMarlboro High School in Marlboro and Emerald High School in Greenwood have joined the Rural Innovative Schools initiative led by the South Carolina Council on Competitiveness. The two schools join North Middle/High School and Batesburg-Leesville High School in the multi-year initiative designed to improve access to postsecondary education for students in rural communities.

“In today’s economy, jobs increasingly require postsecondary education, and graduates from rural high schools are less likely to pursue postsecondary education than their non-rural peers,” said Ann Marie Stieritz, president and CEO of the Council. “We must improve access to postsecondary education for students in rural areas of our state so that they can be competitive in careers and higher education.”

Unlike more traditional dual-enrollment and early college programs, the Rural Innovative Schools initiative aims to create a system of supports for students who would be the first in their family to attend college. Schools are selected to participate in the initiative based on a variety of factors including community interest, rural location, poverty level, percentage of underrepresented and minority students, and percentage of students who would be first-generation college goers.

“The administration and staff in our four pilot schools are working hard to create a culture based on increased rigor and student engagement,” said Dr. Peggy Torrey, director of education and workforce initiatives for the SC Council on Competitiveness. “It is important to take that first step so that first-generation college students are prepared for more demanding college courses and they are engaged and excited about this new opportunity.”

The SC Council on Competitiveness is coordinating a statewide partnership to support the four pilot schools. The partnership includes the Education Oversight Committee, the State Department of Education, the SC Commission on Higher Education, the SC Technical College System, the SC School Boards Association and The Riley Institute at Furman University.

Rural Innovative Schools is led at the national level by Breakthrough Learning, a nonprofit professional services agency that provides innovative approaches to professional learning for teachers and administrators. The initiative is funded by a federal grant, matched by private contributions that are raised by each state partner.

For more information on the Rural Innovative Schools Initiative in South Carolina, visit:

About the South Carolina Council on Competitiveness
The South Carolina Council on Competitiveness is a nonpartisan, business-led non-profit organization committed to advancing the long-term economic competitiveness of our state, industries, and citizens. We execute our work through partnerships recognizing that our state’s economic success is secured through sustained collaboration among the private, public, academic and non-profit sectors. For more information, visit

About Breakthrough Learning
Breakthrough Learning is a professional services agency focused on developing high-performing schools and districts by providing innovative approaches to teacher and administrator professional learning. We partner with districts, higher education, businesses and communities in across the nation to ensure that all students graduate ready for college careers and life. For more information, visit