Bells Elementary becomes state’s first New Tech elementary school

Bells Elementary in Ruffin implemented a new approach to learning this year that gives them unique distinction. We’re in Colleton county for our Cool School of the week.

This year, Bells Elementary School partnered with the New Tech Network, a national non-profit that works with nearly 200 districts and schools. BES transitioned from a traditional school to a Project Based Learning school. Principal Lauren Behie says, “We are the first New Tech PBL school in the entire southeast, the closest New Tech PBL Elementary School is in Ohio.”

Project Based Learning is an instructional method that brings learning to life through solving real world problems that are found in the community. “We integrate all our subjects together and either Science or Social Studies will drive the project. Right now, our fourth grade students are conservationists, and they’re trying to figure out a way to conserve water. We had our buildings and grounds director come out and meet with them to share our stats, how much it costs? How much water we’re using? They’re coming up with a plan to conserve water and share it with the other schools in the district,” says principal Behie. First-grade student Jimariya Elliott says, “We try to help everybody be a responsible citizen in first grade.”

Bells’ core content teachers traveled to Missouri for a week this summer for New Tech training. School leaders say this instructional method makes learning relevant and provides students with experiences different from traditional settings. Technology plays a large role as well. Every student has a chromebook. Fifth-grade student Marissa Sherry says, “I know my school is probably one of the best schools because I love it here because we learn so much new things, and New Tech is awesome to me because I like getting on the computer and doing all sorts of activities like our Project Based Learning.”

The model includes flexible student work spaces and seating. Students work in groups, and give each other feedback. Parent Talika Mock says, “Bells is making strides, making our children globally competitive with their peers, I just think we’re moving in the right direction.” Behie says, “We fell like through these models we can expose them to numerous experiences and they can actually help to create their own pathway.”

Coming up Friday on News 2, we’ll present Bells Elementary with our Cool School award.

We want to hear about the good things that are going on at your school. Just send an email to Octavia at omitchell@

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