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Another great year!

Posted: June 15, 2012 10:25 a.m.
Updated: June 18, 2012 5:00 a.m.

Every year in May, a community member named Bob Watkins invites me to speak to the Golden Club, a really fun group of local retirees that meets for breakfast once a week. Generally, I use this opportunity to talk about the accomplishments of school year. I thought I’d share some of the same highlights in this month’s column. It’s been another great year! Our students and our staff continue to achieve at an impressive level. Following are just a few examples:

• PASS scores exceeded the state averages in writing, English Language Arts and math for the first time ever.

• The district’s performance on the State Report Card was the best ever.

• ACT results were the highest ever with more students taking the test. Usually, an increase in test takers causes a decrease in scores. In this case, Kershaw County bucks the trend.

• Pine Tree Hill Elementary was chosen as one of the state’s “Distinguished Title I Schools.”

• The scholarships earned by members of the Class of 2012 topped $10.5 million, more than double the total amount five years ago.

• Camden Middle School teacher Valerie Willis was chosen as the top Earth Science teacher in the Southeast Region.

• Lugoff-Elgin High School teacher Holly Sullivan was one of only 97 educators in the nation to receive a National Presidential Award for Science teaching. This is the second straight year a Kershaw County teacher has received this prestigious award.

• The district was featured in the national magazine Education Executive because of our continued strong academic performance in spite of budget cuts.

• Doby’s Mill Elementary School media specialist Betsy Long received a national award from the Carnegie Foundation.

• The district received another exemplary audit report and had its A-1 rating restored by Moody’s because of the district’s financial management after severe budget cuts.

• Fifteen schools were recognized by the state with Palmetto Gold and Silver Awards, the most ever.

• Doby’s Mill Elementary teacher Helen Walker was one of five finalists for the South Carolina Teacher of the Year. This is the second time in three years that a Kershaw County teacher has been a state finalist.

• The North Central High School Hospitality Management team won the state championship for the second straight year.

• The Baron DeKalb Elementary School Improvement Council won the Dick and Tunky Riley Award as the state’s best School Improvement Council.

• Pine Tree Hill Elementary School Principal Lisa Shannon was recognized as the State Reading Administrator of the Year.

• The Doby’s Mill Elementary School Lego Robotics Team won the state championship and won third place in the Inspiration Award at the World Festival in St. Louis.

• The Blaney Elementary School Archery Team won the state championship and competed in the national championship in Louisville.

• Baron DeKalb Elementary School won an Exemplary Writing Award from the state, the second Kershaw County school in two years to receive this recognition.

• Every ATEC cosmetology graduate passed both sections of the state licensing exam with scores exceeding the state averages. (I find it interesting that it requires more hours in South Carolina to become a cosmetologist than it does to become an attorney…)

• Pine Tree Hill Elementary student Trenton Lewis was recognized as a national finalist in a national cursive handwriting competition involving more than 300,000 students.

• The South Carolina Scholastic Press Association named the Lugoff-Elgin High School yearbook the “Best Yearbook in South Carolina.”

• The district’s partnership with the community in implementing a $5.7 million “Safe Schools/Healthy Students” grant continues to garner national attention.

These are just a few examples of the many accomplishments of our schools, students and staff members this year. All of this just scratches the surface, and doesn’t even begin to take into account the many, many accomplishments -- large and small -- that take place in our schools and classrooms each and every day. A student mastering a new skill or learning to do something new is as significant as the areas I have just described, probably more so. These accomplishments are a tribute to the hard work and professionalism of our staff and the tremendous support of our families and the larger community. I am extremely grateful to the many people who give so much to make our district great and effective -- one that I am extremely proud of. Thanks for a great school year!!

I’m always pleased to talk with community members about our schools. My direct dial phone number is 425-8916 and my email is Citizens can also contact me through the “Ask the Super” link on the homepage of the district Website. I also invite folks to read my “blog” and listen to the podcast I record after each school board meeting with meeting highlights. Both of these, and a whole lot more, can be accessed at


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