Graduation rates continue to rise across S.C., local schools grab #1 spot

South Carolina (WPDE) — The South Carolina Department of Education and State Superintendent Molly Spearman released the 2015-2016 state report cards for SC schools and districts on Tuesday and trumpeted the fact that the state's high school graduation rate continues to climb.

Spearman said the rate climbed to "an unprecedented 82.6 percent" and pointed out that that was an more than 2 percent increase from last year.

She said it was a "true testament to the collaborative effort of students, parents, and educators to ensure that all graduates are prepared for success and meeting the Profile of the South Carolina Graduate," according to a news release.

And Darlington County School District (DCSD) ranked No. 1 in four-year graduation rate in South Carolina in 2016, according to the data released.

DCSD students graduated at a rate of 94.5 percent, an increase of more than 2 percent from 2015. The state average was 82.6 percent.

Within the school district the rates were as follows:

  • Mayo High School for Math, Science and Technology - 100 percent graduation rate
  • Lamar High School - 98.3 percent
  • Darlington High School - 95.1 percent
  • Hartsville High School - 91.5 percent.

The district pointed out in its release that Darlington High saw an increase to its graduate rate of nearly 4 percent, while Hartsville High’s rate rose by nearly 3 percent.

The data came as part of the SCDE’s release of 2015-2016 state report cards for schools and districts. To see the report for each school click here.

"Report cards are designed to provide a progress report on how schools and districts are performing on the World Class Knowledge, Skills and Characteristics outlined in the Profile of the South Carolina Graduate; and are reported through test score measures that indicate readiness for college using the ACT, SAT, End of Course Tests, and readiness for careers using WorkKeys. The SC READY tests in grades 3-8 are also aligned to show student readiness for the college entrance tests they will ultimately take in high school.

The new report cards also highlight a multitude of opportunities provided to students at each grade level, such as advanced placement, International Baccalaureate and dual credit participation. Report cards also provide vital information to the business community by showing the number of students enrolled in career and technical courses, number of students who have earned an industry certification, and students who participated in an apprenticeship or work based learning opportunity.

Pursuant to South Carolina’s Act 200, report card ratings for both districts and schools are suspended for two years, in 2015 and 2016. Districts and schools will receive report cards under a new accountability system for the 2016-17 school year, which will be released in the fall of 2017," the release said.

Sixth Annual Dick & Tunky Riley What WorksSC Award for Excellence

At the October 14 luncheon, Furman University’s Riley Institute and South Carolina Future Minds presented the annual Dick and Tunky Riley WhatWorksSC Award for Excellence to Healing Species, which uses rescued dogs to teach compassion and violence prevention to at-risk students. Along with a beautiful crystal award, Healing Species was given a check for $5,000 to use in sharing the story of their initiative so they can replicate it in even more schools. Former two-term Governor of South Carolina and United States Secretary of Education Dick Riley presented the award.

Linda O’Bryon, president and CEO of South Carolina ETV, hosted a conversation with Charleston County Schools Superintendent Gerrita Postlewait and Spartanburg District 7 Superintendent Russell Booker about what is happening in their districts to close the achievement gap among different racial and socioeconomic groups.

 

Hartsville PULSE Initiative Selected as Finalist for Dick and Tunky Riley WhatWorksSC Award for Excellence

Hartsville, S.C., U.S. – The TEACH Foundation (Teaching, Educating and Advancing Children in Hartsville) is pleased to announce its PULSE (Partners for Unparalleled Local Scholastic Excellence) initiative has been selected as a finalist for The Riley Institute at Furman University's 2016 Dick and Tunky Riley WhatWorksSC Award for Excellence. The WhatWorksSC award, first given in 2011, highlights outstanding evidence-based educational initiatives throughout South Carolina. Finalists were chosen by a panel of judges from more than 100 entries in the Riley Institute's WhatWorksSC clearinghouse. As a finalist, PULSE will receive a small grant from the Riley Institute for enhancement of the program or consulting with other schools, districts and organizations interested in its replication.

PULSE is a one-of-kind public-private partnership formed to implement a comprehensive scholastic excellence program in Hartsville public schools that expanded curriculum opportunities and further improved student achievement through collaborative academic and social development initiatives. Partners include the Darlington County School District, South Carolina Governor's School for Science and Mathematics (GSSM), Coker College and Sonoco. Sonoco funded the initiative through a $5 million grant over five years.

"We believe it is our responsibility to build the community as we build our business," said Harris DeLoach, executive chairman of the board, Sonoco, and chairman of the board, TEACH Foundation. "It is absolutely critical that every child, regardless of economic status, leaves the public school system with the skills needed to succeed in the workplace."

After its five year implementation, a snapshot of results is as follows:

  • A key component of PULSE, the Comer School Development Program, focusing on academic achievement and personal development of elementary students, served more than 6,500 students at four area elementary schools. On average, students increased reading scores by 12-points and math scores by 14-points on Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) testing.
  • Accelerated Learning Opportunities (ALO) served more than 840 high school students in Hartsville with courses such as Mandarin Chinese, Molecular Biology, Engineering Design and Development, Circuitry and Electronic Inventions, Applied Piano, Class Voice, and more. The ALO program grew to 14 course offerings during the 2015-16 school year and celebrated three successive years of all students passing AP tests, earning college credits. Students participating in ALO have published scientific papers, earned prestigious scholarships and been selected for competitive internships at organizations like NASA.
  • The local Scoutreach component helped more than 350 male students in grades 5k-5 gain leadership skills.
  •  The summer reading program (six weeks long) exceeded its goal of increasing reading proficiency – from four months to six months of reading growth. 

"Every accomplishment begins with action, and PULSE is no different. The five-year program is a great example of coordinated action resulting in positive change. We must build on it," said Jack Sanders, president and CEO of Sonoco.

"The TEACH Foundation is much more than just an exciting and unique partnership," said Dr. Eddie Ingram, superintendent of Darlington County School District. "The Foundation's leadership is forward-thinking in approach and execution. In addition to substantial fiscal support of the PULSE program, the TEACH Foundations also brings innovation and networking opportunities to the people of our district."

Finalists will be recognized and the winner of the 2016 award will be announced at a luncheon October 14 in conjunction with South Carolina Future Minds' annual Public Education Partners (PEP) conference at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. The public is invited to attend the full conference or the luncheon only. For more information and/or to register for the luncheon or conference, please visit the Riley Institute's website or contact Jill Fuson at jill.fuson@furman.edu.

About TEACH

The TEACH Foundation is a not for profit, 501(c)(3) organization that serves as the administration arm for the PULSE initiative which includes accelerated learning programs at Hartsville High School, students living in Hartsville attending Mayo High School and the Comer School Development Program in four area elementary schools. It was formed as part of the Greater Hartsville Chamber of Commerce. The Foundation manages the $5 million in funding provided to PULSE by the Sonoco Foundation.

About Sonoco

Founded in 1899, Sonoco is a global provider of a variety of consumer packaging, industrial products, protective packaging, and displays and packaging supply chain services. With annualized net sales of approximately $5 billion, the Company has 20,800 employees working in more than 330 operations in 34 countries, serving some of the world's best known brands in some 85 nations. Sonoco is a proud member of the 2015/2016 Dow Jones Sustainability World Index. For more information on the Company, visit our website at  www.sonoco.com.

Contact:
Julie Scott
+843-383-7794
julie.scott@sonoco.com

Scoutreach: Providing leadership skills to young children

Download a flyer on the Scoutreach program in Hartsville. Be sure to follow Scoutreach on Facebook.

Now in its third year, more than 85 young boys in grades 5K through fifth grade are learning leadership skills in Cub Scout packs.

The packs are part of the Scoutreach Division of the Boy Scouts of America, which provides special emphasis to urban and rural Scouting programs. Funding for Scoutreach in Hartsville is underwritten by Sonoco Products Compay. The program is implemented by the Pee Dee Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America and the TEACH Foundation, which oversees the Comer School Development Program in four Hartsville elementary schools where the packs reside.

Since September 2013, the young boys meet at Southside Early Childhood Center, Thornwell School for the Arts, Washington Street and West Hartsville elementary schools where they learn scouting values and skills set forth in scouting.

Each school focuses on a difference grade levels. There are Tiger Cubs from the first grade and Wolves from the second grade at Washington Street. The third grade Bear Cubs are at Thornwell, and the fourth grade class was chosen to participate at West Hartsville. At West Hartsville, the Webelos are now in their second year.

Although the children at Southside are still too young to be Tiger Cubs, they are in a program called Learning for Life, says Sharman Poplava, executive director of the TEACH Foundation. The Learning for Life program teaches the same values as the Cub Scout programs and next year the students can hop right into Scouting. 

Each school has teachers and/or staff that assist the packs as leaders. And in addition to assisting the den leaders, new Scoutreach director Marquita Gaither helps coordinate activities and events.

The funding from Sonoco provides everything the scouts need, Poplava says. Transportation for trips, awards, uniforms and badges are all covered. 

The idea behind the Scoutreach program is to open up a new world for the children who would not likely have participated otherwise. The Scouts earn badges, learn to fold a flag, wear uniforms and learn to be responsible for their own actions, Poplava adds. "We believed the precepts of scouting tie directly to the Comer School Development program being implemented in four elementary schools."

One project that really took off last year was the Community Garden project. The Cub Scouts learned about nutrition and the value of nature. They designed and planted their own garden plots, and grew their own vegetables and /or flowers.

Community leader Nancy Myers spearheaded the project . She recruited a professor from Coker College and a teacher from the Governor’s School for Science and Math--both partners in the PULSE program--to assist with the garden project. Volunteers taught the boys how to grow vegetables, and provided structured activities to include community service, citizenship, responsibility, decision making, hands on recycling, and more.

In short, Scoutreach offers boys activities that enhance their basic school lesson plans and gives them a wider view of the community where they live. It also brings them in touch with the greater community around them, Poplava says.

Hartsville named All America City

PULSE program key component of application

500_hartsville_ACC.jpg

The city of Hartsville and its residents are still celebrating the victory of being named an All America City (AAC). Sponsored by the National Civic League, the AAC designation is given annually to towns, cities, counties, tribes, neighborhoods and metropolitan regions for outstanding civic accomplishments. The 2016 award program highlighted community efforts to "ensure that all our children are healthy and successful in school and life."

The process to become an All America City is daunting. The application asks direct questions about race, crime and employment. Specifically, each city must elaborate on three key community-driven programs, and make presentations to a jury of civic experts focusing on those examples of collaborative community problem solving. The application states: “We welcome descriptions of projects that ensure the success of all children, including at-risk children, through health or healthy community strategies and/or education strategies particularly seeking to improve attendance in school and/or projects that reflect the intersection of health and education.”

The Partnership for Unparalleled Scholastic Excellence (PULSE) was an integral part of the application's success story. The public-private partnership began in 2011, when then Sonoco president, chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) Harris DeLoach approached local leaders to improve educational opportunities and academic achievement for Hartsville students. Those leaders, Robert Wyatt, president of Coker College; Murray Brockman, president of the South Carolina Governor's School for Science and Mathematics (GSSM); and Dr. Rainey Knight, superintendent of the Darlington County School District, brainstormed ideas that eventually become PULSE.

PULSE initiatives create the framework for student success by providing an elementary school environment that supports and encourages whole child development and offers academic challenges for high school students. The goal is that at graduation, students will be prepared, contributing members of society and the workforce through the combined resources and collaboration. The two key components of PULSE—the Comer School Development Program (SDP) at four Hartsville elementary schools and the Accelerated Learning Opportunities (ALO) at the high school for students excelling in science, math, the arts and language.

ALO students benefit from collaborative teaching program between GSSM and Coker College. Classes through GSSM include Advanced Chemistry, AP Calculus AB, Robotics, Molecular Biology, Pre-Engineering and Mandarin Chinese I, II and III. Classes at Coker include art, music, theater and dance. Dual credit is available for the arts classes and Mandarin Chinese.

The Comer SDP uses a no-fault problem solving strategy among three teams at the school. The teams encourage parental involvement and participation. By creating and working a comprehensive school plan, the SDP focuses on nurturing the whole child along six developmental pathways. The Comer schools have seen an increase in student growth and academic achievement as well as a reduction in disciplinary issues.

The application also outlined numerous successes in both the elementary and high school initiatives. Also mentioned were the PULSE mentor program, and Scoutreach, which is active in all four of the Comer elementary schools. The former enlists citizens to mentor elementary school children and the latter is an extension of the Boy Scouts of America, designed to provide leadership skills to children in rural areas.

Sharman Poplava, executive director of the TEACH Foundation, which oversees the administration of the PULSE program, and member of the AAC team, says she is proud of the town's accomplishment. “It's a wonderful testament to the residents of Hartsville that we have been named an All America City. There is a tremendous amount of ground work that has to be done to prepare and participate in this process.

“This year's theme of student success is what the PULSE program is all about,” she adds. “Hartsville is a special place that strives to improve educational outcomes for students. It's nice to be recognized for all the things that our community is doing right.”

Poplava was joined by two ALO students, Stone Martin and Archie Torain. Tara King, principal of West Hartsville elementary, a Comer school, also attended on behalf of the PULSE program.

Hartsville is one of 10 cities that earned the All American City designation for 2016. The small South Carolina town was also an All America City in 1996.

Read the entire application and the numerous PULSE successes here.

TEACH Foundation donates funds for summer reading camp

Six-week initiative helps students experience reading gains

For the third consecutive year, the TEACH Foundation contributed financial support to the Darlington County School District’s (DCSD) summer reading program.

Matthew Ferguson, English/language arts and social studies coordinator for the Darlington County School District, said the donation is vital to the summer reading program’s success. “The TEACH Foundation has been an indispensable partner in expanding Darlington County School District’s Summer Reading Camp,” he said. “All students who participate in this summer opportunity experience gains in reading. Many even enter the next academic year reading on grade-level. Our partnership with the TEACH Foundation has made great strides in placing these students on the path of career and college readiness.”

The summer reading camp, this year following along with the Darlington County Library System’s theme of “Ready, Set, Read,” provides extensive instructional time for young students who were reading below grade level at the end of the school year.

Sharman Poplava, executive director for the TEACH Foundation, said the foundation is thankful young students have the opportunity to attend the summer reading camp. “Research shows that young children can lose up to two to three months of reading ability over a summer break," she said. “The TEACH Foundation commends the Darlington County School District for making this camp available to those students who make achievement gains during the school year and often experience loss in achievement over the summer."

The reading camp, which begins June 6 and continues for six weeks at Thornwell School for the Arts, received a $28,600 donation from the Foundation this year.