I was really energized by the faculty meeting I attended yesterday at Jackson School, where the faculty talked about all the strategies and programs they are implementing to raise student achievement. I was most impressed by the “can do” attitude displayed by this group. The students at Jackson made great strides last year. I am absolutely confident this trend will continue.
I visited Bethune Elementary on Friday, where principal Theodore Jackson and members of the staff showed me how the school is using data charts to help students see their own progress and truly take ownership for their own learning. I was really impressed with the focus the staff at Bethune has placed on the progress of each individual student. I was also unbelievably impressed with the enthusiasm I saw. Enthusiasm and focus will take us a long way!
In spite of the steady rain, a very spirited crowd came to Homecoming at North Central on Friday night. Elementary students who came to the game had the opportunity to help bring the Knights onto the field before the game. I thought the teacher cadets at NCHS did a great job of organizing everything. I hope these younger students are getting excited about being North Central Knights someday. An enjoyable, if a somewhat wet evening….
I was pleased and privileged to attend a luncheon on Friday at the Target Distribution Center in Lugoff where Target awarded grants for two special projects at Camden Elementary School and for the African Drumming and the “Strings in the Afternoon” programs, which involve students across the district. Target has taken a strong and visible leadership role in helping to develop school-business partnerships in our district. I am extremely grateful to Target for its commitment to our young people. It has made a tremendous difference!
I had my first meeting of the year with Teacher Cabinet. This is a very important group for me because I use it for two-way communication with schools. Last year, the feedback I received from this group greatly influenced the budget and a number of other areas. I really appreciate that these folks are willing to spend time with me once a month in the late afternoon because I know that each of them has very busy professional and personal schedules.
I got to stop by the Junior Leadership Program session this morning, where the students were working with Ms. Alfred Mae Drakeford of Camden City Council and Mr. Sammie Tucker of County Council on the topic of diversity. I was really impressed with how the students were responding to and participating in the exercise involved. Based on what I saw and heard from last year’s group, this session will be of great benefit to these young people. I really appreciate and value the willingness of Ms. Drakeford and Mr. Tucker to work with the Junior Leadership Program.
Liz Horton, who is the Executive Director of the Kershaw County Chamber of Commerce, has been doing various jobs around the county to get a first hand idea of the work that folks do. Today, I visited Doby’s Mill Elementary, where Liz was working with a 4-K class. I really appreciate her initiative in doing something like this. I know Liz was having a good time working in this class, and I also know she was getting a real sense of how challenging it is to work with a group of active four year-olds.
I had my first meeting of the year today with Student Cabinet, which consists of students from all three of our high schools. I’m always impressed with the insights of this group. They point out very valid issues that adults might not always see right away. I truly enjoy these meetings.
I’m extremely excited that the United Way of Kershaw County is working on a strategic plan to help address dropout, poverty, and health issues in our community by bringing multiple community groups together, including the school district, to develop collaborative strategies to bring about improvement in these areas. I look forward to the school district taking an active part in this effort. My sincere thanks to Donnie Supplee, the Executive Director of the Kershaw County United Way, for his leadership in getting the ball rolling.