Mentors and mentees celebrate a successful year

May 2015

Mentors, mentees and family members joined together to celebrate the end of a successful year for the PULSE mentor program. The event was held at the Hartsville skating rink at the end of May. Darlington County School District PULSE facilitator, Justin Dunham, began the evening by recognizing mentors for their dedication and commitment to the students. He told a short story about each mentor noting that many including Jada Gore, James Hudson, Natalie Zeigler and Blair Bryan had been involved with the program since its inception in 2012. Mentor school coordinators, Raven Legette, Thornwell School for the Arts; Anita Brown, Southside Early Childhood Center; Jarriel Jacobs, Washington Street; and Pierre Brown, West Hartsville presented each volunteer with a PULSE mentor t-shirt and gift bag.

Dunham thanked parents for allowing their children to participate in this special program, and shared a personal account of what mentoring has meant to him. He introduced one of his own mentees and showed how the two of them share a secret handshake. “This is something just between us. We do this handshake every time we get together,” he explained.

Mentors stood proudly beside their mentees as Dunham called each student by name and presented them with completion certificates. In addition, students got to select a gift from a table of puzzles, games and books chosen to encourage summer learning.

Following the awards ceremony and a quick meal, the students hit the rink and enjoyed skating for the remainder of the evening.

Spring Fling offers ideas, activities to prevent summer learning loss

Large crowd participates in festivities

Students and their families represented the four Comer schools in high style at the Spring Fling, with more than 300 people filling Hartsville Middle School. The Spring Fling, sponsored by the PULSE program, and funded by the TEACH Foundation, was designed to help parents and caregivers learn creative ways to prevent summer learning loss. Nearly a dozen community organizations set up booths to share ideas for summer activities.

Sharman Poplava, executive director of the TEACH Foundation, was delighted with the turnout. “This is a busy time of year and it was wonderful to see so many parents and children take the time to see what resources Hartsville has for children during the summer months.”

Justin Dunham, Comer facilitator for the Darlington County School District (DCSD) welcomed the crowd by quoting an African proverb: “It takes a village to raise a child.” He then introduced each of the villages that help raise children in Hartsville—ranging from the family and school to the participants of the resource fair that set up table top exhibits featuring the services they offer to stem the loss of learning over the summer months.

“Our village is here tonight,” Dunham explained to the crowd. “We start with the Comer program. It's a national program that's about changing processes in our schools and reorganizing them to educate the whole child. Our village is here tonight."

Some highlights of activities for children included:

  • The Hartsville Museum offers many art and cultural exhibits, as well as numerous historical displays, at no cost

  • The Hartsville Memorial Library provides free cards for books, DVDs/CDs, reference materials and more

  • Girl Scouts of America is featuring a special program in Hartsville this summer

  • The Boys and Girls Club of the Pee Dee provides a variety of sports, fitness and recreation, as well as character development and leadership skills

For details on all the vendors at the resource fair, use this link.

The Spring Fling also featured five breakout sessions and a variety of activities for children in the gym. The sessions included:

  • Understanding Child Development with Dr. Camille Cooper from Yale University Child Study Center and the Comer School Development Program;

  • Literacy Matters: How Can Parents Help? with Mrs. Kathryn White, literacy specialist

  • Family Games/Learning Applications with Mrs. Brandy Benjamin, Grade 3 teacher, Thornwell School for the Arts

  • Helping Children Cope with Change with Mrs. Aimee Knight, MS, LPCI, Solid Rock Family Counseling Services, LLC

  • Classroom Dojo Application: Positive Classroom Management with Mr. Spencer Gaither, Exceptional Education, Thornwell School for the Arts

By helping families understand that learning loss does not need to happen, the breakout sessions offered concrete ways to encourage and participate in summer learning opportunities.

The evening's activities also included a boxed dinner, family games, face painting and two performances; one by the percussion ensemble at West Hartsville, let by Mr. Marlin Ketter, and the second, Thornwell School for the Arts ensemble performed three songs, led by Diane Pauley, music teacher for TSA's magnet school.

2014 mentor banquet filled with smiles and fun

The 2013-14 mentor program concluded the year with a dinner and awards celebration at St. Luke United Methodist Church on Thurs., May 22 at 5pm.  The event was attended by mentors, mentees, mentor coordinators and family members.

Pastor Stuart Pritchett, Gum Branch Baptist Church, Hartsville was the featured speaker. He encouraged both mentors and mentees to mine their potential. He also suggested to seek the best and look for the good in one another. As a mentor in the program, the preacher says he will be returning next year.

The 2013-14 mentor program included 48 mentors and 54 mentees. Mentors were recognized and presented logo t-shirts embroidered with PULSE logo. Mentees were recognized and received back-packs filled with school items-books, pencils, games and toys.  


Mentors and students gather at meet and greet

Jan. 2014 event filled with fun

More than 50 parents, students, teachers and community members congregated at St. Luke Methodist Church on Jan. 23, 2014 to celebrate mentors and their students. The meet and greet partners students with their mentors, and brings all the parties together in a fun, festive atmosphere. 

Adults and children were laughing, talking and playing games as they learned more about each other. The mentor program is designed to help children develop along the six pathways, and keep the community interested in local education issues.

For more information about the mentor program, contact the program assistants at each school:

West Hartsville, Veronica Gainey, 843-857-3270
Washington Street, Jarriel Jacobs, 843-383-3141
Thornwell School for the Arts, Raven LeGetta, 843-383-3927
Southside Early Childhood Center, Anita Goodwin, 843-857-3310

HHS student excels in music through ALO program

Sarah Floyd earns scholarship from Sandlapper Singers

Sarah Floyd

Sarah Floyd

When given the opportunity to study voice at Coker College in 2011, Hartsville High School student Sarah Floyd jumped on board, and hasn't looked back since. The class was made possible through the Accelerated Learning Opportunities (ALO) offered by the PULSE program. 

The learning (or singing) has paid off for Floyd. She was recently awarded the Katie Quackenbush Scholarship from the Sandlapper Singers. This prestigious group is considered to be South Carolina's premier professional choral ensemble, with a stated mission "to present American choral music in a uniquely entertaining, inspiring, and engaging style and to provide educational opportunities for young singers."

Floyd was one of the first students to enroll in ALO classes, and she readily accepts the challenges to be successful. She is a member of the choir and advanced choir, as well as a senior enrolled in the International Bacculaureate program at HHS. She has earned numerous awards, including a superior rating at last year's state-wide NATS competition where she competed against some of the best students in South Carolina.

Floyd's instructor is Serena Hill-LaRoche, assistanct professor of music at Coker College. She is also the PULSE coordinator for Coker. 





Washington Street Elementary launches Roadrunners Race for Reading

Program off to a great start

Roadrunners Reading Program at Washington Street Elementary: January winners are 1st grader Jordan Hollimon (center), 2nd grader Saniyah Prescott (left) 3rd grader Aliyah Muhammad (right)

Roadrunners Reading Program at Washington Street Elementary: January winners are 1st grader Jordan Hollimon (center), 2nd grader Saniyah Prescott (left) 3rd grader Aliyah Muhammad (right)

Reading is one of the most integral components in an elementary school curriculum, and Washington Street Elementary knows just that. In early January, Washington Street Elementary school kicked-off a new reading program, Roadrunners Race For Reading, to encourage more students to read both at school and at their homes. “This is an exciting time for our students because they are more excited and encouraged to read,” says Stacy Bannister, curriculum teacher for Washington Street Elementary school. Washington Street Elementary school currently is one of four elementary schools in Hartsville that is participating in the Comer Student Development Program through the P.U.L.S.E program.

Washington Elementary school noticed that students needed to improve reading skills. And, as the teachers know, the more you read, the better you read. To get students more excited about reading, they introduced Roadrunners Race for Reading. “We've started with great energy, and with full student and teacher participation,” Bannister says.

Students are able to take books home to read as part of their homework or leisure time. “Our main goal is to provide each student with a mini-library of books at their homes,” Bannister adds.

The students are provided with a universal reading log where they record how many pages they have read each day. Every month, one student from each grade level is recognized based on how many pages he/she has read that month. Student names will be posted in the cafeteria for the whole school to see and to encourage a little friendly competition in the classrooms.

In January, the top three students in each grade level were recognized.  First grader Jordan Hollimon read 699 pages, second grader Saniyah Prescott read 808 pages, and third grader Aliyah Muhammad read 1,975 pages. In total all of the students at Washington Street Elementary School read an outstanding 44,059 pages in January.

“This program does more than just instill a love for reading. Each student learns responsibility and honesty when it comes to maintaining their logThey even learn a little math because they are responsible for adding up how many pages they have read,” Bannister explains.

(Story submitted by Gabriel Fonseca)

PULSE Mentor Program Benefits

Teacher comments and observations

The comments on this page come from teachers who have students working with a caring adult in the PULSE mentor program. 

"The students seem to light up when they see their mentor come in the room." (Southside 5k teacher)

"I have seen a positive difference in both the school and the students since the implementation of the PULSE Mentor program began. The students are so happy to have someone interested in them and it has really boosted their self confidence. It has had an impact on the school as well because it is nice to have community members involved and being partners with us in the education of these children. The Mentor program has brought educators, community and parents together to help our children achieve." (Southside teacher and mentor coordinator)

"My two first grade students who have weekly mentors live for those Friday visits." (Thornwell grade 1 teacher)

"I can see that my mentors have made a positive impact on their child's school experience and social pathway." (Thornwell grade 1 teacher)

"I see more smiles, less tears. More honesty, less disappointments. I see the value a mentor program holds. It's a treasure worth fighting for." (Washington Street grade 1 teacher and mentor coordinator)

"The students are excited about having an adult in their lives who cares about them and their success. They are more attentive to their studies and have improved their behavior." (Washington Street principal)

"Strong relationships are formed through this valuable program." (West Hartsville grade 5)

"Mentoring was beneficial for me in a way that I didn't expect. Each week, I looked forward to the hour with my mentee because it was one hour when I stepped out of my daily grind to be fully present for an amazing being who I know sincerely appreciated my being there. The joy and laughter we shared together in that hour fueled my energy for the remainder of my week."  (President of the Greater Hartsville Chamber of Commerce & Darlington County Tourism.)
“The mentor program has provided me the chance to help children become better citizens.  I would not trade the opportunity for anything. This experience has been eye opening, and I look forward to working with more children in the continuing years.” (Music teacher, WHE)
“The three years I’ve spent mentoring a student at Thornwell School for the Arts have been rewarding, whether reading with her, playing games or simply being there for her special events. I’ve enjoyed taking part in her social and emotional development and watching her grow over time, and this has made it easy to set aside an hour every week to make a difference in her life.” (Hartsville City Manager)