A podcast on ideas shaping the future of K-12 education.

About This Podcast

Are you a school policymaker, teacher, or parent who cares about making schools better places for every student? In this education podcast series, host Ben Thompson, AIA, A4LE, the K-12 Studio Director at McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture, talks to experienced and insightful leaders in the education arena. Join us for this weekly exchange of ideas for solving some of the biggest issues facing students and schools today. Education matters, and it is something that we all share in common. Subscribe now!

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Episode 4 Guest pictured: Mellanie Jinnette

Making Sense of School Funding

May 4, 2021: What’s your reaction when talking about funding for K-12 public education? Every year Americans provide around 700 billion dollars in tax revenue to fund 56 million students in 84,000 public K-12 schools across this nation. Schools have multiple revenue sources from federal and state sources. Are we utilizing those dollars to their highest potential in education? In this episode, Ben talks with Mellanie Jinnette, CFO of the school district in Chester County. Mrs. Jinnette also served in the SC Department of Education for more than 24 years. We seek to understand how schools are funded and the policy decisions that affect students and their families. Listen as she helps us all make sense of complicated school funding formulas and talks about her hopes for the future of revenue allocation in schools.

• The Future of K-12 Education contact form: Contact Us Here!

Episode 3 Guest pictured: Jennifer Parker

Mental Well-Being and Student Success

April 27, 2021: “Schools have the largest opportunity to help children be successful,” says guest Jennifer Parker, Ph.D, LPC. K-12 students are experiencing higher levels of anxiety, depression, and trauma than ever before. The need for school mental health resources is more urgent than ever and not just from counselors, it takes a whole-school approach to effectively address student mental health. As the Director of Child, Youth and Family Initiatives for the Spartanburg Academic Movement (SAM), Parker talks from first-hand experience about the types of mental health risks students today are dealing with and how schools can create learning environments where social and emotional skills are at the center of academic achievement.

WARNING: This episode contains a description of sexual violence / assault involving a minor. Please be advised.

• Spartanburg Academic Movement (SAM) (learnwithsam.org)
• The Future of K-12 Education contact form: Contact Us Here!

School Safety and Security Beyond the Pandemic

April 20, 2021: There is a clear relationship between a positive school culture and a potentially higher level of school safety. A well-designed school makes the environment safe without making it look like a fortification. In this episode, Dr. Joanne Avery brings her wealth of experience as a former Superintendent to the issue of school safety. Dr. Avery led her district through the aftermath of a fatal school shooting and discusses what she learned about space design, physical protection, and communication best-practices for maintaining a safer school.

WARNING: This episode contains talk of a school shooting that may be disturbing or upsetting to some listeners.

• Mcmillan Pazdan Smith Whitepaper on School Safety
• AASA School Safety Toolkit

Returning to Learn Post-COVID

April 20, 2021: The COVID-19 pandemic has not only created a health crisis but an education crisis as well. For schools to be fully prepared to “return to learn” strategic plans must be in place. Ben Thompson welcomes Dr. Russell Booker, former Superintendent for Spartanburg School District Seven, to share his insights and tips to help educators form a successful academic plan for the upcoming school year and beyond.

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