180Days

After 180 Days: Hartsville/A Community Perspective wins award

A video produced by the TEACH Foundation earned an Award of Excellence from the South Carolina Chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators. After 180 Days: Hartsville, A Community Perspective was evaluated by independent judges from Nashville, Tenn., Altanta, Ga., and St. Louis, Mo.

The entry consisted of two parts: a work plan outlining the objectives and results of the project and supporting documentation illustrating the outcome. The work plan focuses on storytelling, and explains how Hartsville schools became the subject of a year-long video project managed by the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC). The project, called 180 Days: Hartsville was a two-hour documentary and part of the PBS public media initiative American Graduate: Let's Make It Happen. Co-produced by South Carolina ETV (SCETV) and NBPC, it aired in March 2015.

The documentary primarily focused on a fifth grader struggling with behavioral issues throughout the 2013-14 school year. Interspersed throughout the film, viewers could catch glimpses of key community outreach and involvement. However, the documentary was a snapshot and didn't explore the details of the Partnership for Unparalleled Scholastic Excellence (PULSE) initiative that played a significant role in the successful outcome of the student’s challenges.

PULSE is an inventive and repeatable path to improving education outcomes in rural schools through collaboration, innovative community resources and increased parental involvement. One of the programs within PULSE is the Comer School Development Program (SDP) which directly set into motion the success that ultimately ends the full, two-hour PBS documentary. In addition to elementary school programs, PULSE is implemented in the high school through Accelerated Learning Opportunities (ALO) not brought out in the documentary.

According to Sharman Poplava, executive director for the TEACH Foundation, After 180 Days: Hartsville, A Community Perspective explains the scope of PULSE and how it has impacted education in a small southern town. “The PBS documentary tells an important story about the redemption of a young student,” she says. “It is just one of many stories. We wanted to share a broader perspective on how the PULSE program created the environment for that redemption and success.”

In After 180 Days: Hartsville, A Community Perspective, the outcomes of PULSE are highlighted in different segments using interviews from community members who are committed to improving education in Hartsville. Also participating is the Comer SDP team at Yale University, including Dr. James P. Comer himself, who puts missing facets from the documentary into perspective. The TEACH Foundation was able to compile a video that answers pertinent questions about both aspects of the PULSE program and provides a roadmap other communities can follow for similar success.

Judging criteria for the awards included: effective writing integrated with design and visuals appropriate for the medium and the audience, creative and innovative approaches communicating with the target audience, and documented measurement of objectives. In the evaluation, the judges commented, “I was impressed with the quality and content of the video. It does an excellent job of describing PULSE's goals and aspirations.”

Poplava agrees enthusiastically. “We are delighted about receiving the award,” she explains. “It validates our belief that PULSE has an outstanding and pertinent message to share on education in South Carolina, particularly in the Hartsville schools.” 

The video can be viewed here and is embedded below.

180 Days: Hartsville

PBS documentary showcases Hartsville teachers, students and schools

The PBS documentary, 180 Days: Hartsvile, tells the story of a fifth grade student struggling with behavioral issues that threaten his academic performance. It illustrates actions taken by his principal, teachers and mother as they work together and identify solutions to bring about a positive resolution for the young boy.

Below are some of the featured media events surrounding the documentary. Learn more about the film, co-produced by the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC) and South Carolina ETV, (SC ETV).

Be sure to visit the After 180 Days page, which will bring readers and interested followers up-to-date on what's been happening since the documentary was released.

Feb. 24, 2015
Sam Chaltain, education advocate and consultant, writes about Hartsville on his blog. He tells the story of how the PULSE initiative brought the Comer model to four elementary schools.

Feb. 28, 2015
Teach Foundation issues press release about 180 Days: Hartsville

Feb. 27, 2015
Chaltain opines about 180 Days: Hartsville, and the Darlington County School District's use of the Comer model, made possible by the community's PULSE initiative.

March 6, 2015
Catch the Cecil Chandler show on WPDE, 12noon, to see Roger Schrum, Sonoco Staff Vice President Investor Relations and Corporate Affairs, will discuss 180 Days: Hartsville. 

March 6, 2015
Editorial by Harris DeLoach, Sonoco executive chairman and retired CEO, offers insight into upcoming PBS documentary (printed in Hartsville Messenger and on scnow.com)

March 11, 2015
The Hartsville Comer Connection features all things 180 Days: Hartsville. Read it now.

March 12, 2015
A 45-minute, edited version of the film will be shown in Hartsville at the Center Theater, followed by a live panel discussion featuring some of the documentary's leading characters and Hartsville's most prominent educators. The free event begins at 6:30pm and is open to the public.

Sam Chaltain discusses education reform and 180 Days: Hartsville on his blog.

March 16, 2015
Read an editorial by Harris DeLoach that tells the important backstory omitted in the documentary.

March 17, 2015
Tune in to the local PBS station to catch the full two-hour premier of I80 Days: Hartsville. The show will be followed by a moderated panel discussion featuring some of the Hartsville participants, as well as some statewide and nationally known participants.

March 20, 2015
Read the story behind the documentary's focus on Hartsville from the people on the front lines, including Dr. James Comer, who joined the local panel after the screening.

Read the news being generated by 180 Days: Hartsville.

After 180 Days: Hartsville

A Community Perspective

Members of the Hartsville, S.C., community reflect on the local premiere of 180 Days: Hartsville. The PBS documentary focused on a fifth grader, struggling with behavioral issues throughout the 2013-14 school year. Interspersed throughout the documentary, glimpses of key community outreach and involvement lay a foundation, but the documentary never delves deeply into what truly makes Hartsville the unique place it is, or concretely demonstrates how the Comer School Development Program (SDP) set into motion the success that ultimately ends the full, two-hour program. This video not only focuses how Hartsville is using the SDP to develop the whole child, it includes an overview of a unique public-private partnership (PULSE) that involves a $5 million investment in Hartsville students in the Darlington County School District.

Read the op-ed by TEACH Foundation director Sharman Poplava about the ongoing PULSE initiatives.

Panel focuses on Comer strategies as foundation for school successes

Post 180 Days: Hartsville commentary highlights link between development and learning

Following the March 12, 45-minute, edited preview of 180 Days: Hartsville, nearly 300 attendees stayed to listen to a panel discussion featuring several of the key people from the film as well as two guests, Dr. James P. Comer, founder of the Comer School Development Program, and Jacquie Jones, director/producer of the documentary. Much of the commentary from participants revolved around the significance of the Comer SDP in the two elementary schools featured in the documentary.

The panel was moderated by Beryl Dakers, director of cultural programming/outreach for SC-ETV, who asked questions based on the content of the edited version of the film. In addition to Jones and Dr. Comer, other panelists included Dr. Eddie Ingram, superintendent of the Darlington County School District (DCSD); Harris DeLoach, Jr., executive chairman of Sonoco; Carlita Davis, assistant superintendent at the DCSD; Tara King, principal of West Hartsville Elementary School and Pierre Brown, grade 5 teacher at West Hartsville.

180 Days: Hartsville follows a year in the life of Rashon Johnson, a bright fifth grade student at West Hartsville as he begins to experience some behavioral issues. In addition to Rashon, the film features West Hartsville principal, Mrs. King, as she struggles in her first year in that role, balancing the needs of her school with those of the students. On the other side of town, at Thornwell School School for the Arts, the documentary illustrates some of the same issues Mrs. King faces, although the principal, Julie Mahn, has been in her role for five years. Interspersed throughout the film, glimpses of key community outreach and involvement lay a foundation, but the documentary never delves deeply into what truly makes Hartsville the unique place it is, or concretely demonstrates how the Comer SDP set into motion the success that ultimately ends the full, two-hour program.

When asked about the central lesson of the documentary, Dr. Comer said, “What we saw are teachers who are caring and committed. It is all done in a framework that allows them to create a culture that supports the development of children.” Comer, the Maurice Falk Professor of Child Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine's Child Study Center, stresses that development and learning are inextricably linked. The framework, he added, is what leads to good outcomes academically and behaviorally.

The framework Comer refers to is the SDP he created decades ago that has been successfully implemented in schools worldwide. The no-fault problem solving, consensus-driven model focuses on development of the whole child along six key pathways: ethical, cognitive, social, language, psychological and physical. Comer's model has consistently shown that when children have positive developmental experiences, they are motived to learn.

Supporting Dr. Comer's position, Mrs. King spoke up, saying, “Educating kids is a huge responsibility. And it's a responsibility given to all of us as educators, teachers, parents and members of the community. It's a new age: children come to us with a lot of challenges that must be met before we can even begin to truly educate them.

“I'm blessed to have been exposed to the Comer model by Dr. Comer. Education is much more than just academics,” King continued. “As educators, we are charged with making sure our students are successful. Successful means they leave us prepared for life. To do that, we have to address all of their needs, not just their academic needs.”

Dr. Eddie Ingram echoed Mrs. King's comments. “If we don't meet the needs of our children first—whether it be hunger, clothing, shelter and making them feel loved and needed—we can't teach them.”

The panel discussion also centered around the topic of education as a whole, and how communities like Hartsville are trying to succeed. Harris DeLoach, often outspoken on the issue of education, and how companies like Sonoco are looking for solutions that help provide suitable candidates for employment, said, “Education is the biggest issue facing our country today. We've gone from being the premier public education system in the world after World War II, to now, where the U.S. is ranked 22nd or 23rd out of 27 industrialized nations. Like it or not, we all compete in a global economy. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to give them the best education we can so they can compete.

“Business and community have to come together and do whatever is necessary to support schools. We have be part of the solution,” he added emphatically.

When DeLoach said education was as close to a silver bullet for success as he could identify, Dr. Comer agreed. “This is the first time in the history of the world where we are being asked to educate children who come from low-income, non-mainstream backgrounds. And we have to know how to do it."

The solution, according to Dr. Comer, is providing the necessary developmental experiences to properly shape the brain and enable it to function well. “The most critical thing is to think about development and the whole child,” he added. “Realize that children aren't good or bad, smart or dumb. They have different developmental experiences that either prepared them to be successful or they didn't. If we can provide them with support for good development, we're going to make it.”

PBS documentary premiers at Center Theater on March 12

 180 Days: Hartsville offers inside look at local education

After a year of filming in Hartsville schools, PBS will premier 180 Days: Hartsville at Center Theater on Thurs., March 12 at 6:30 p.m. The 45-minute, edited version will be followed by a live panel discussion featuring some of the documentary's leading characters. The event is free and open to the public. The full-length (2-hour) program, co-produced by the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC) and South Carolina ETV, (SC ETV), will air on Thurs., March 17 from 8-10 p.m. (check local listings for station information.)

180 Days: Hartsville tells the story of a fifth grade student struggling with behavioral issues that threaten his academic performance. It illustrates actions taken by his principal, teachers, mother as they use the Comer School Development Process (SDP) to work together and identify solutions to bring about a positive resolution for the young boy. The documentary also details a year in the life to two principals: one, the daughter of sharecroppers, and the other, a first year principal.

180 Days: Hartsville was funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) as part of American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen, a public media initiative to stem the dropout crisis by supporting community-based solutions. While not specifically mentioned in the documentary, the community-based solution in Hartsville features the Comer SDP, underway at four Hartsville elementary schools since the 2011-2012 school year. Now in its fourth year of a five year pilot program, teachers and staff at the schools foster an atmosphere of consensus and no-fault problem solving as they focus on links between behavior and learning. Dr. James P. Comer, founder of the Comer SDP, and Maurice Falk Professor of Child Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine's Child Study Center, has spent his career promoting the collaboration of parents, educators and community to improve social, emotional and academic outcomes for children that, in turn, help them achieve greater school success.

The Comer SDP is part of the PULSE initiative announced in February 2011. Partners for Unparalleled Local Scholastic Excellence (PULSE) include the Darlington County School District (DCSD), Coker College, the South Carolina Governor's School for Science (GSSM) and Mathematics and Sonoco. Coker College, GSSM and DCSD staff provide flexible and innovative teaching programs for Hartsville students. Sonoco has provided $5 million in funding over five years to improve collaboration in and among schools, strengthen the local school system, provide students with incomparable educational opportunities designed to help them excel academically, and prepare them with skills necessary to be successful in the work force.

“PULSE was created to improve academic and behavioral outcomes by enabling educators, parents, families and community partners with tools to bridge the gap between education and development in learning,” says Sharman Poplava, executive director of the TEACH Foundation, the not-for-profit organization that manages funding for PULSE. “The documentary highlights one success story at the elementary school level, and we have hundreds more similar stories. We hope other towns and cities will assess their own unique public and private resources and develop workable plans to improve education in their schools.”