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.

Reading camp accelerates learning for K5-grade 3 students

Summer 2015

K5-grade 3 students attended summer reading camp to stay sharp on skills and develop new ones

K5-grade 3 students attended summer reading camp to stay sharp on skills and develop new ones

Hard work brings rewards. That’s what a group of students learned this summer by participating in the Darlington County School District summer reading camp. Over 100 kindergarten through third grade students enjoyed shared reading, read-aloud and writing curriculum as part of a six-week literacy-based camp. Study included science and social studies from the grade above as a means of front–loading content for the first nine weeks of the 2015-16 school year.

The overall program showed that students averaged one-half year growth in the six weeks of camp. To celebrate student success and attendance they were treated to a trip to EdVenture Children’s Museum in Columbia, SC.

Students began their adventure in the lobby of the museum where they were greeted by EDDIE, the world's largest child. The exhibit is a 40-foot and 17.5-ton model made of reinforced, molded plastic large enough for adults and children to climb in and through. Students scrambled through his brain, heart and body taking an interactive journey through the anatomy.

Campers were excited to run around and visit the hands-on exhibits. One camper exclaimed, “This is amazing. I wish school was like this.”

In World of Work, a kid-sized city, campers learned what it’s like to be a farmer, firefighter, store manager, mechanic, scientist and builder. The exhibit teaches the importance of hard work in a variety of jobs. Over the summer campers worked hard in their jobs as students and were delighted to enjoy the benefits a job well done.  

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

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.

Sharman Poplava receives Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award

Recognized for outstanding contributions to community

Sharman Poplava, executive director of the TEACH Foundation, received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award. Coker College presents the award to a community member each year to acknowledge and recognize individuals whose “nobility of character” and service to others sets them apart as examples to all. It may be presented to graduating seniors, alumni or community members who meet the criteria set forth by the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation.

In addition to her duties at the TEACH Foundation, Poplava is the host of Good Morning Hartsville with Sharman Poplava on WHEZ 95.9FM. She currently serves on the boards of the United Way of Hartsville, Hartsville-Coker Concert Association, Darlington County First Steps and is president-nominee of the Hartsville Rotary Club. She has previously served on the boards of the Francis Marion University Performing Arts Center Foundation and the Darlington County Economic Development Partnership. She is a member of the Hartsville Civic Chorale, Hartsville Chamber Ensemble and active in St. Mary’s Catholic Church.

Named for a prominent 19th-century lawyer, orator, mediator and philanthropist, the Algernon Sydney Sullivan award is intended to recognize and honor selflessness, generosity of service, nobility of character, integrity and depth of spirituality.

George Sullivan created the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation in 1934 to perpetuate the values of his parents. Since 1934, the foundation has taken as its primary mission the inspiring of young people to lead lives of integrity, characterized by service above self and service to their communities. The Foundation facilitates annual awards on 61 college and university campuses in the American South. Participating institutions may present the awards to graduating seniors, alumni or community members.

ALO students excel in voice and piano

2014-15 year-end recitals, successes celebrated

The PULSE Accelerated Learning Opportunities (ALO) classes celebrated several milestones at the end of the 2014-15 school year. Seventeen students earned dual credit for music arts classes at Coker College, including voice and piano.

Danielle Cottingham, senior at Hartsville High School (HHS), was selected by the Coker faculty to participate and perform at the college's Honors Recital. Her selection was based on grades, class deportment, improvement and clear demonstration of the characteristics of a dedicated music student.

Other successes throughout the year include:

Participation in a piano master class conducted by University of South Carolina professor Dr. Charles Fugo, an accomplished musician and instructor

HHS senior Jabria Bishop, vocal student, was cast in the lead of the school's musical production

Three vocal students from HHS participated in the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) competiton. ALO students have qualified all four years of the program. This year, three students scored superior, and four scored excellent in the state solo and ensemble divisions. Anisha Green qualified to move on to the regional competition held in College Park, Maryland, but she was unable to attend. The NATS competition is adjudicated by vocal teachers from all over the state and southeast region.  

Three ALO students who have participated in the ALO program for the last three years, graduated in 2015. Two of them, Cottingham and Matthew Little, are pursuing majors in music and have earned scholarships from several institutions. Jabria Bishop, who will attend Duke University on a full scholarship, is pursuing a degree in bio-engineering with a music minor.

In January 2015, rising junior Stone Martin enrolled in Piano Class I to learn basic keyboard reading skills with Professor Chandler. By May, under Professor's Chandler's tutelage, he was invited to participate in the Coker Community Music Spring Recital based on his excellent performance in Class Piano. After the recital, he received a scholarship to participate in the Coker College Summer Piano Institute (SPI). SPI provides intensive piano study to pianists in grades 7-12. 

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.

Stem summer learning loss with fun family games

Free and easy ways to engage children

It's no secret that summer vacation causes a significant learning loss for many school-aged children. To stem the tide, Thornwell School for the Arts grade 3 teacher, Brandy Benjamin, recommends some classic and informal games that boost language, memory and other learning skills. The best thing about these games is they don't cost any money to play, and don't require any pieces or components—just brain power. Here is a short list with instructions:

20 questions

One player thinks of an object, let others know if it is an animal, vegetable or mineral. The other plays ask only questions that can be answered with a yes or no. The goal is to discover what the object is in fewer than 20 questions.


This game is a riff on 20 questions, best suited to older students who are familiar with people in the news and more historic figures. One player (or a team of players) takes on the persona of a well-known person and shares only the initials of the person's name as a clue. Other players (or the other team) asks yes or no questions until they guess the person, or have used up 20 questions.


One player names a category and the other players take turns naming items that belong to it. The category can be broad (e.g., animals) or narrow (e.g., types of dogs). The game continues until no one can come up with another item to add to the category.


Each player comes up with a place name (town, state, country, etc.) that begins with the same letter as the last letter of the place mentioned by the previous player. For example, if the first player says Italy, the second player might say Yosemite. Play continues until players run out of places to name.


This game is similar to Horse. The game starts with the first player naming a letter of the alphabet. Other players take turns by adding a letter that contributes to the spelling of a word. The catch: Avoid completing a word. Each time someone completes a word, he gets a letter of the word Ghost. Once a player has spelled ghost, he/she is out of the game. A player can be challenged if another player suspects the letter added isn't part of a real word.

I packed my grandmother's trunk

Each player starts off with the sentence, “I packed my grandmother's trunk and in it I put...” The first player completes the sentence with an item that begins with the letter A. The next player repeats the sentence and the first players answer, and then adds an item with the letter B. Play continues through the entire alphabet.

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.