A showcase of schools

The annual Shelby County Showcase of Schools highlights the work of their foundation

Story and photos by Jeana Durst, content director

Students in the Beatniks band from Helena Middle School perform for the crowd.

What brings a school district with 31 schools and more than 20,000 students together? Dr. Lewis Brooks, Shelby County Schools Superintendent of Schools, sums it up like this: “It is the collective effort of everyone that makes our school system the best school system–we could not do this without partnerships from our parents, community members, civic leaders, and others who have a vested interest in everything we do.”

Students from Chelsea Park Elementary School show guests their “Rockin’ and Rolling Streams” project.

On February 13, 2020, the Shelby County Schools Education Foundation packed the house of the Instructional Services Building in Alabaster in the newly renovated meeting space for this year’s Showcase of Schools. In attendance were representatives from each school, the School Board, bus drivers, members of the administration, teachers, parents, principals, and plenty of students; it seems fitting that the theme for the district this year is “together.”

Montevallo High School senior Grace Carr speaks about her time in school. An experienced welder who holds a 4.3 GPA, Carr will attend the University of Alabama to pursue an engineering degree.

The event kicked off with breakfast from Jim ’N Nick’s, followed by entertainment from the Calera High School Steppers and an introduction from the Shelby County Schools Education Foundation Executive Director Kendall Williams. Dr. Lewis then spoke and reminded the crowd that the focus of education in Shelby County relies on collaboration, creativity, critical thinking and community. 

Students from Vincent Elementary School visit with guests.

The mood in the room was alive when the Helena Beatniks, a middle school drum performance group, got people on their feet and clapping. Next up, Montevallo High School senior Grace Carr, a skilled welder with a 4.3 GPA, shared how her educational journey had equipped her for a future in engineering, which she will pursue at The University of Alabama in the fall. Carr recalled her fondest memories from high school and notably recognized all the dedication and after-hours support her English teacher provided.

Students involved with the Schoolhouse Granola project pose with chef Sean Butler, who works side by side with the students on this Foundation-funded business venture.

The program concluded with an “open house” that took place in several classrooms where students showcased projects they’ve been working on from every discipline. There were Chelsea Park Elementary boys who had created mini-dams and Vincent Elementary girls who impersonated Mia Hamm in an Alabama living history museum, just to name a few examples.
One of the most interesting projects we learned about that day was Schoolhouse Granola, a student-led (and tasty) business venture in partnership with local Chef Sean Butler who brings kitchen and business savvy—as well as an Austrian granola recipe. Schoolhouse Granola gives kids a real-world crash course on building and running a small business, from designing a logo to making the product to marketing, sales, and distribution. (You can buy their product online or in Hoover at Baba Java). Directed by Shelby County Work Instructor Laura Partain, this program was made possible by a grant from the Alabama Council on Developmental Disabilities.


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