New curriculum creates thinkers at Carver Elementary

on Monday, 09 November 2015. Posted in News

Posted: Wednesday, November 4, 2015 7:55 pm

BY MELISSA ROLLINS Morning News This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

FLORENCE, S.C. – Wednesday morning, Stefanie Dorsey’s student architects were making plans to build a house. Separated into pairs, the students were trying to figure out the best way to build their houses using the supplied materials: “straw,” “sticks,” “bricks” and…glue.

The venture was just an average day for the Carver Elementary School kindergarten class, using the Project Lead the Way curriculum for the first time.

Project Lead the Way is a national movement, using project-based learning to incorporate science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) into more classroom lessons.  Dorsey, who has been teaching for more than two decades, said that the new school year has been exciting with Project Lead the Way.  “I really love what we are doing with Project Lead the Way,” Dorsey said. “What happens is that vocabulary gets instilled in them. I’ve already started telling them, ‘You know what? You could grow up to be an engineer,’ and it gets them thinking that there is a future out there for them; things that they could do, things that they like.”

Tuesday and Wednesday, the students were reading “The Three Little Pigs.” Dorsey said the project lesson plan used the book in a completely different way than she has used it previously.

“I would never have used it for science,” Dorsey said. “I would have used it for language arts, talking about retelling a story in order; there are some math concepts but I would never have thought to use it for science. I love that this curriculum takes this book and puts a twist on it.”  Dorsey’s students had to sketch a design for their house. Once the partners had decided on a design, they had to use either toothpicks (straw), Popsicle sticks (sticks) or small blocks (bricks), along with some clay and glue, to hold the structure together.

Today, after the houses have had time to dry, they will be stuck in front of the wolf (a fan) to see if he can blow it over. The students will then have to sketch a picture of what their house looked like when the wolf was done with it.  Of course, because they are reading a book, language arts is incorporated even when working on a science project.

“We are using words like ‘function’ and ‘structure,’” Dorsey said. “When I first read the lesson, I was like, ‘This is for kindergarten?,’ but the kids remembered what we talked about yesterday. They knew what I meant when I asked what the function of a chair is. When they go into first grade next year, when they hear those same words, they are going to remember this. It could be the hardest thing they did that didn’t work out, but they are going to remember what the function of the house was.”

The PLTW curriculum lets students work together, Dorsey said, which can lead to them sharing knowledge.  “We were using blocks yesterday, and one of the students said he was building a museum,” Dorsey said. “One of the other students in his group asked what a museum was. Well, the first student said that it is where you put old cars and other old things. I didn’t have to teach him that. It was something he knew, and now he was teaching the other student. I went over and was able to ask them about what the function of a museum is.”

Carver Principal Chris Rogers said he is eager to see the results of the new curriculum as the year progresses.  “It is incredible, seeing all of the learning going on but also the excitement,” Rogers said. “We are looking forward to seeing these kids next year, doing it in first grade and then second, just getting better and better each year.”  As a former teacher himself, Rogers said , it is great to see students are learning so many different concepts early on.  “This is really beneficial to our school because it helps the students become thinkers,” Rogers said. “It isn’t just ‘here is a lesson’ and ‘here is the answer.’ They do it themselves. By the time they get to high school, there will be so much that they have been exposed to.

“Project Lead the Way is teaching them all that they can be whatever they want to be. We want to be able to open doors for everybody, and that is what we have been able to do with this.”

Carver, along with Briggs and Greenwood Elementary Schools, received a grant earlier this year from The School Foundation to help them launch Project Lead the Way in Florence One at the elementary school level. A grant from Verizon allowed Delmae to also take part in the effort.

At Florence gala, "Jeopardy!" champion says experience changed life

on Wednesday, 14 October 2015. Posted in News

Posted: Tuesday, October 13, 2015 10:35 pm

BY MELISSA ROLLINS Morning News This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

FLORENCE, S.C. -- Ben Ingram, a "Jeopardy" Tournament of Champions winner, talked with the audience at The School Foundation's annual gala Tuesday night about how Florence School District One helped him become the person he is today.

He was honored at the gala as The School Foundation's distinguished graduate.

"On 'Jeopardy,' even though it is a game that is played among three individuals, I for one was just a small part of a large team," Ingram said. "It wasn't a team formed for the express purpose of getting Ben Ingram on 'Jeopardy,' or getting someone from Florence on 'Jeopardy.' I think the purpose of this team was to get me ready for adulthood. I was very well prepared by this team."

Ingram said there are countless individuals he counts as part of this team.

"My team includes my folks, who were the first people to ever teach me," he said. "It includes (my girlfriend) Liz who knows everything I don't...but it also includes my fellow students in kindergarten, and my teachers there too; my teachers and students at Royall...Sneed...Williams and dear old Wilson High. They deserve the credit. I humbly accept this award on behalf of them; on behalf of my team."

Ingram shared a little bit with the audience about his time on "Jeopardy."

"When I was walking on the stage to play 'Jeopardy' for the first time...I did not have any expectations; I didn't expect to win, lose, draw or whatever," Ingram said. "I did have a lot of nerves so one thing I did to calm myself down was I made a promise to myself. That promise was that no matter what happened, no matter what the outcome of this experience would be, win, lose or draw, I would not allow it to change my life."

Ingram told the audience that all three possible outcomes eventually became a reality.

"Well, since then, I've done all three," Ingram said. "I've won on 'Jeopardy'; I've lost on 'Jeopardy' and as some of you may remember on July 3, 2013, I played to a draw...That promise I made to myself has long been void; this has changed my life and the most profound, the most valuable change, is that I've been able to make a lot of new friends. I've been able to renew acquaintances with my old friends and become closer to them and closer to my family; what could be more valuable than that?"

One of the first students to enter Florence One's International Baccalaureate program, Ingram congratulated the district on the work that it is doing educating students, specifically in STEAM-related fields.

South Carolina Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman, before presenting the Florence One Honor Roll Teachers and the 2015 Teacher of the Year, also congratulated the district and the community.

"I've got to hang out in the Magic City more often," Spearman said. "It is so impressive what you are doing in Florence. Your community is doing exactly what needs to happen in every community across our state, preparing every graduate to be ready for the next step."

Spearman said she wants to see what Florence is doing replicated throughout the state.

"How I wish that I could clone you and this foundation and drop you in all of the communities across this state," Spearman said. "I am going to be talking about you and what you are doing through the Florence foundation as I travel across South Carolina. Thank you for the opportunities that you are giving every child in Florence District One."

Paying homage to Ingram's stints on "Jeopardy," the academic challenge teams from all three Florence One high schools played several rounds of trivia with questions about Florence's past, influential leaders in the community and, of course, Florence School District One.

Florence School District One Survey

on Monday, 14 September 2015. Posted in News


The School Foundation receives $10,000 grant from Verizon for ‘Project Lead The Way’

on Tuesday, 15 September 2015. Posted in News

Florence, SC- Verizon donated $10,000 to The School Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides resources and support to administrators, teachers, and students of Florence School District One (FSD1). The grant will enable Delmae Elementary School to join three other FSD1 elementary schools in piloting Project Lead the Way (PLTW) – a comprehensive approach to science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) education.

With Project Lead the Way, Delmae Elementary School students have a great opportunity to experience science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics as they would in a career setting where all the components are infused in both creative expressions and problem solving situations. Students learn how to communicate effectively, work in teams, facilitate discussions, practice professional conduct and think critically.

Roy Ann Jolley, Delmae Principal, stated, "We are thrilled at the possibilities for learning through Project Lead the Way. We are committed to provide classrooms that are engaging and relevant for our 21st Century learners. This initiative will allow teachers to empower students with the tools needed to test, tinker, and design in classrooms where collaboration is key and content comes to life."

"We believe these experiences ignite students' entrepreneurial spirit and puts them on the path towards a brighter future," said Krista Bourne, Verizon Wireless president for the Carolinas and Tennessee. "For today's global economy, focused on high-growth and technology-driven careers, we must educate, prepare, and inspire all students by providing and promoting innovative and creative learning experiences and outcomes."

"Through activity-based, project-based and problem-based curriculum, Project Lead the Way gives students in kindergarten through high school a chance to apply what they know, identify problems, find unique solutions, and lead their own learning," said Debbie Hyler, executive director for The School Foundation. "With Verizon's support, we are one step closer to supporting students at Delmae Elementary."

SC Representative Terry Alexander stated: "This will help prepare our students to meet the future workforce needs of companies like Verizon. We appreciate their investment and partnership with The School Foundation and the students of Florence School District 1."

Watch our video of the event.  This information is from a Press Release.

2015 literacy advocates honored

on Sunday, 13 September 2015. Posted in News

Posted Sept. 10, 2015
University of South Carolina Office of Communications
By Haley Hinze, second year M.M.C. student

Joe Keeton, StartSMART and Tutor Eau Claire were honored by the School of Library and Information Science, Sept. 8, 2015, with Literacy Leaders Awards. The awards go to individuals and groups that have had a statewide impact on literacy in South Carolina.

The ninth annual ceremony was held at the South Carolina Center for Children's Books and Literacy. Emcee for the event was WLTX News 19 reporter and part-time anchor Savannah Levins.

The 2015 awards ceremony also included the second Peggy Parish Prize, which honors those who have made a personal impact that increases child literacy in South Carolina. The memorial award was given to two individuals who demonstrate the imagination, creativity and energy to help the children of South Carolina become life-long readers. This year's recipients of the award were Julie Bascom and Vicky Culbertson.

Award Recipients
Joe Keeton, formerly of Follett Library Resources, is a school library and literacy advocate from Chapin, South Carolina. Ida Thompson, who presented the award, said that Keeton is a "person who really cared, and who understood at the very core of what he represented ... and how important it was to make sure young people were engaged with quality reading material and great literacy experiences."

Keeton has made many contributions to state libraries and literacy programs, ensuring that they remain working efficiently. "I'm the behind-the-scenes guy," he said. "When I got plucked out of a lumber yard to sell books, I had no idea where this journey would take me." Thompson said that Keeton also helped bring Project Connect to South Carolina — "a really awesome opportunity to put our state on the map in terms of our advocacy for our children and our literature."

StartSMART is a unique partnership between Florence School District 1, The School Foundation and the StartSMART Advisory Council. The program, which focuses on children from birth to four years of age in Florence County, helps families prepare their kids for school. Parents are also provided with home visits and caregivers are given monthly training, explained presenter Leesa Benggio-Aiken. "In 2015, 500 children in Florence County went to preschool, 250 families received home visits ... 400 children received free books and 100 caregivers received monthly training."

Floyd Creech, who accepted the award with Debbie Hyler, said, "Our goal is that every child from zero to three who can't afford books in Florence will have a library of 24 to 70 books by the time they are three years old." In 2014, they distributed more than ten thousand books during home visits.

Tutor Eau Claire, the literacy outreach of Eau Claire Shalom Ministries, has provided affordable tutoring for dyslexic children and adults in Columbia since 2000. The effort started out as a small community center serving 10 children a year, and has since expanded to serving hundreds of families annually. Presenter Kim Jeffcoat said, "Tutor Eau Claire raises awareness of dyslexia and the importance of early intervention to prevent reading failure. [The organization] shares its message of help and hope for struggling readers not only in the Midlands, but throughout South Carolina and beyond."

Tracey Ely accepted the award on behalf of Tutor Eau Claire. She said, "I don't really receive it for myself but for the many unsung heroes who advocate for dyslexic children: the families that never give up, the students who never give up on themselves, the tutors and volunteers who give their time and talents to help students overcome reading failure and the many partners who support our mission."

Julie Bascom was awarded one of the Peggy Parish Prizes, presented by Will Balk, for her role as a literacy advocate. Bascom is the Youth Services Manager for the Hilton Head Branch of the Beaufort County Library. Balk said of Bascom that "this woman has seen opportunity where others, only see limitations. Bascom interpreted her role [as librarian] broadly, and defined her mission as one of outreach to communities long underserved by the library system."

Bascom was "extremely honored" to receive the award. She explained that a personal encounter with Peggy Parrish during her graduate studies in Mississippi encouraged her to go into children's library services. "She inspired me as a student, of course first as a child, but then as a graduate student. And then to be the recipient of this award in the later years of my career ... there's Amelia Bedilia and Peggy Parrish still poking me from behind saying 'keep on and make this fun and reach more families.'"

Vicky Culbertson was the second recipient of the Peggy Parish Prize. Culbertson is a certified reading specialist and school librarian in Laurens County. Professors Clayton Copeland and Karen Gavigan presented the award to Culbertson, saying that she "has worked tirelessly to promote the love of reading in her students, whether they are beginning readers or high school students. When it seemed there was little hope or limited opportunities to make a difference, she created them." Many of Culbertson's students have moved on to become librarians and instructors themselves, including Copeland. "Ms. Culberston created a peaceful, safe place for children to learn to become lifelong readers," Copeland said.

Culbertson explained that she feels "a kindred spirit" with Peggy Parrish. She gave credit to all those "who tolerate and encourage my ideas and brainstorms." She is currently in her 37th year as a middle school librarian "with no end in sight."

The Literacy Leader Awards, also know as "ALL Awards" were created as part of the School of Library and Information Science's Children, Libraries and Literacy Initiative, a $6 million campaign launched in 2005 to eliminate illiteracy across South Carolina. Recipients are recognized for their contributions in developing and implementing innovative and creative approaches to literacy education, establishing models of best practices in literacy education, and providing service to underserved groups and communities.

School Foundation to honor Jeopardy! champ Ben Ingram

on Tuesday, 01 September 2015. Posted in News

Published in the News Journal
Brenda Harrison, Editor
August 26, 2015

Ben Ingram, a 2001graduate of Wilson High School's International Baccalaureate program, will be honored as Florence School District One's Distinguished Graduate at the 14th Annual School Foundation Celebration Gala set for Tuesday, Oct. 13. "Ben has set a great example for all our students, as he has always exemplified professionalism throughout his entire school career in Florence School District One" stated Debbie Hyler, executive director of The School Foundation. "He has put his math degrees to good use, and is working in the banking industry in Charlotte. I think it's good for us to have a young distinguished graduate, a great representative for the entire Florence community."

"The School Foundation spotlights the life and accomplishments of a successful Florence District One graduate and celebrates their successes each year at their annual gala," stated Jean Leatherman, chair of the foundation's Fund Development committee. "How exciting to honor one of Jeopardy!'s all-time most successful winners! It goes to prove that having a strong work ethic as a student ensures success later in life." Born and raised in Florence, Ingram attended Royall, Moore, and Sneed Middle School before transferring to Williams Middle School to enter the International Baccalaureate program.

After Wilson, he continued his studies at Wofford College earning a bachelor's degree in mathematics in 2005. He received his master's degree in applied mathematics from the University of South Carolina in 2008. Currently, he works in information technology and automated software testing at a bank in uptown Charlotte. Prior to Charlotte, he lived in Columbia and Pune, India.

The School Foundation promotes educational excellence in Florence School District One through grants for innovative learning and through high impact initiatives designed to prepare all students for success. They are currently leading a school readiness awareness campaign focusing on preparing all children to enter kindergarten with the skills needed to succeed. Founded in 2000, they have funded over $1,091,355 in grants to educators in Florence School District One.

The event will be held at the Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing and Technology (SiMT), 5:30 until 9 p.m. Tickets start at $75 for FSD1 educators and $100 for individuals. Reserved tables of eight begin at $1,000 (bronze), $2,500 (silver), $5,000 (gold) and $10,000 (platinum). A VIP reception will be held for contributors of $2,500 or more. For tickets call Hyler at (843) 662-9996, or e-mail dhyler@

Fellows program created to give insight into Florence One classrooms

on Monday, 17 August 2015. Posted in News

BY MELISSA ROLLINS Morning News This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Published August 16, 2015

FLORENCE, S.C. — Florence School District One, The School Foundation and the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce have partnered to start a Fellows in Education Program.

The program, whose first class will have orientation in mid-September, will give local leaders in business and the community a firsthand understanding of education in Florence One. After orientation, the group will meet once a month for nine months.
Click Here

Debbie Hyler, executive director of The School Foundation, said she has seen the success of the fellows program at McLeod Health and wanted to implement one within Florence One.  "I am familiar with that program because my husband is a McLeod physician," Hyler said. "I thought for a long time that it would be great to have a similar program for education. My children are well out of school, in their twenties, almost thirties; today's classroom is just so different than it used to be with all of the technology that is being used and the project based learning and different things like that."

Mike Miller, president of the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce, said he feels the program is a natural extension of the work the chamber does, a connection that has perhaps gone unrecognized before.  "There were a few different categories that we should have been involved in before and one of those was education," Miller said. "We have looked for opportunities to do that and we found opportunities to partner with strong organizations in town because of course what we wanted were successful programs."

Miller said people not directly involved with children may not have seen the changes made since they themselves were students.  "The students who are in school today are the same people that are going to be in the workforce in a few years," Miller said. "It is a responsibility of the community to know what's going on in our schools and participate and be interactive. I think it is a logical thing to do, to bring people back into the schools who may have not had the opportunity in the last few years because maybe they have students already out of school and out of the home."

He said everyone in the community has a stake in local education even if they don't realize it.  "It is important to keep the community, not just the business community but all of the community, involved in what's happening and this is a good way to do it," Miller said. "Frankly, it touches them every day. Whether you are going shopping at the mall or buying insurance, or going to the carwash, you are interacting with someone, somewhere that was educated in our system."

Hyler said that by working with The School Foundation she has gotten insight into the classroom that she hopes the fellows will see as well.  "I know how much I, personally, enjoy going into the classrooms when we go and visit classrooms where we have given grants from The School Foundation," Hyler said. "This to me is a wonderful opportunity for other people who don't have children in the district to be able to go into the classrooms; it just makes you feel good to see what goes on in the classroom."

Randy Bridges, superintendent of Florence One, introduced the program to the board of trustees Thursday night.

"The mission of Fellows in Education is to select community leaders -- 20 is the number we have come up with for the first class -- to really take an in-depth look at what is going on in our school district," Bridges said. "At the same time, (we will be) building capacity within the community for our schools."  Bridges said he will be involved heavily in the orientation for the fellows, telling them from his perspective what is going on in the district. Fellows will also have a chance to work with some school administration.  "We have put a part in (the program) for them to choose, if they want to, to kind of be a principal for the day," Bridges said. "That means shadowing one of our administrators just to see what the life of a principal is like over the course of a day."

The program was an action item on the board agenda and it was approved, with slight reservation from board members Alexis Pipkins, Pat Gibson-Hye Moore and E.J. McIver over the selection process and the diversity of the fellows, though they had not seen a list of the inaugural group.

Hyler said that the program will touch all corners of the community and that the partners have worked to make sure that the fellows represent all areas of diversity.

Fellows will be introduced to every level of education in Florence One, including the International Baccalaureate Programs, early childhood education and the career center.

According to the mission statement,"Fellows in Education is designed to improve education for students by involving local leaders in the atmosphere and the experiences that our students share each day. The program seeks to create a community of leaders that can share first-hand knowledge and help collaborate with policy makers and the community on the educational concerns of the future."

For more information contact Debbie Hyler, Executive Director, The School Foundation, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; Michael Miller, president, Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; or Dr. Randy Bridges, superintendent, Florence School District One, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Ingram chosen as The School Foundation’s distinguished graduate

on Monday, 10 August 2015. Posted in News

Ingram chosen as The School Foundation’s distinguished graduate

Posted: Sunday, August 9, 2015 4:36 pm
BY SHAMIRA MCCRAY Morning News This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

FLORENCE, S.C. – Ben Ingram, the 2014 "Jeopardy!" Tournament of Champions winner, will be the 2015 distinguished graduate at The School Foundation's 14th annual celebration gala.

The gala highlights the life and career of a successful Florence School District 1 graduate.  "Each year we have a committee, and people around the community submit names to us all year long," said Debbie Hyler, the foundation's executive director. "This year it was timely being that Ben Ingram had just won the 2014 'Jeopardy!' Tournament of Champions."

Ingram graduated from Wilson High School and received higher education from Wofford College and the University of South Carolina. He now lives in Lake Wylie and works in Charlotte as an IT consultant.  In 2013, Ingram won $117,534 on "Jeopardy!," a longtime television game show. He competed against other top "Jeopardy!" winners in the Tournament of Champions in 2014. He won and walked away with $250,000.

Hyler said Ingram sets a great example.  "He has put to good use his math degrees, and he is working in the banking industry in Charlotte," Hyler said. "He was a great example of a young professional his entire school career. I think it's good for us to have a young distinguished graduate, a great representative for the entire Florence community."

To highlight Ingram's interest in trivia, the three District 1 high schools' academic challenge teams will participate in a trivia game during the gala.

The district's teachers of the year for each school, and the district's teacher of the year, also will be honored at the gala, which will be held at 5:30p.m. on Oct. 13.

The gala will be held at the Florence-Darlington Technical College's Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing and Technology Center. Tickets start at $75 for district educators and $100 for individuals. Reserved tables of eight are $1,000 for bronze sponsorship, $2,500 for silver sponsorship, $5,000 for gold sponsorship and $10,000 for platinum sponsorship. A VIP reception will be held for contributors of $2,500 or more.  Tickets can be purchased by calling Hyler at 843-662-9996 or sending an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Tickets also can be purchased at

>> WHAT: The School Foundation's 14th annual celebration gala.

>> WHEN: 5:30 p.m. Oct. 13

>> WHERE: Florence-Darlington Technical College's Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing and Technology Center.

>> TICKETS: $75 for district educators, $100 for individuals. Reserved tables of eight are $1,000 for bronze sponsorship, $2,500 for silver sponsorship, $5,000 for gold sponsorship and $10,000 for platinum sponsorship. A VIP reception will be held for contributors of $2,500 or more.

>> TO PURCHASE: calling 843-662-9996 or sending an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Tickets also can be purchased at

School Foundation awards Florence One grants for 2015-2016 school year

on Tuesday, 19 May 2015. Posted in News

BY NICOLE CARTRETTE MORNING NEWS This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Published May 19, 2015

FLORENCE, S.C. – Eight schools and Poynor Adult Education Center walked away from The School Foundation grant reception Monday night at the Drs. Bruce & Lee Foundation Library with more than $129,000 in grant money.

The School Foundation funded seven grants for the 2015-2016 school year that impact schools in Florence School District 1.  The foundation’s grants committee considered 16 requests that totaled more than $341,700.

“We were very excited by the number of applications received and the tremendous time, effort and research the teachers spent to compile these grant applications” said Trisha Caulder, chairwoman of The School Foundation Grants Committee.

“I am thrilled that we have now awarded over $1 million in grants to FSD1 teachers. This is a tremendous milestone for public education in Florence,” said Debbie Hyler, executive director for the foundation. “The majority of the equipment and technology funded by our major grants over the last 10 years is still being used in classrooms. We are so grateful to have strong financial support from the Florence community.”

A big winner in the major grants division was STEMED (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics in Elementary School), which will benefit students at Briggs, Carver and Greenwood Elementary schools.  Under the proposal by principals Susan Collins, Tara Newton and Chris Rogers, the three schools “will lead the way” in piloting the Project Lead the Way Launch curricula in Florence 1.  The schools will be among some 6,500 schools across the country to participate in Project Lead the Way programs.

The nonprofit is the nation’s leading provider of K-12 STEM programs and cites university studies that suggest students who participate in their programs are three to four times more likely to study engineering, among other factors.  The Florence 1 program is meant to give students experience working in teams to investigate issues, conduct research and answer complex questions, preparing them to use precise science terminology and critical thinking.

A second major grant funded in the amount of $41,665 was the Transition-to-High School through Writing, which will benefit West Florence High School students and will provide 30 laptops for the Freshman Success Academy.  Co-project directors are Lance Butler, Ron Harter and Maureen Shuler. The proposal calls for increasing accessibility to technology, building relationships with higher education institutions, exposing students to positive role models for writing and collaborating with middle school English teachers.

Five requests for mini-grants (up to $500) were funded for the upcoming school year.

Genevieve Boston’s LEGO Write project at $416 at Delmae Elementary paves the way for students to create story scenes with LEGO bricks then use Story Visualizer to write a story using the images they created.

Susan Lane’s Ride and Read project at $500 gets students at John W. Moore Middle School moving by providing three stationery bikes in the media center for students to use while reading.

Shellia Daniels Anderson’s PAWSitive (Providing Awesome and Wonderful Skills) at $500 is an incentive-based program that aims to improve reading and writing among students in learning disabilities support classes. Students earn a free book after passing certain placement tests.

Adult learners at Poynor Adult Education center benefit from a $500 grant for Helping Our People Excel.  "This is for the students that want more," said Til Morisey, director of Poynor Adult Education center.  Ann Stone came up with the idea of a Lunch and Learn program that the funds will help support.  "We like to connect with our students and form relationships and we thought this would be kind of a cool way to do that."  In recent years Poynor received a large grant from The School Foundation that provided iPads and a smart board among other technology still in use.  “We love The School Foundation," said Morisey.  

Kirsten Washington’s Language Learning –Easy and Engaging at $422 will benefit students at Williams Middle School.

The School Foundation remains the largest K-12 public education endowment in the State of South Carolina.  For more information about the foundation contact Hyler at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at (843) 662-9996.

For additional information on Project Lead the Way Launch, visit

Education Superintendent looks to Florence 1 for early education ideas

on Tuesday, 05 May 2015. Posted in News

Posted: Monday, May 4, 2015 7:29 pm

BY NICOLE CARTRETTE Morning News This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

FLORENCE, S.C. –In her first official trip to schools in Florence School District 1 Monday, State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman, got a closer look at early childhood education programs that she would like to see implemented in other school districts around the state.  Spearman’s visit included a stop at Alfred Rush Academy’s Montessori classrooms. At the R.N. Beck Early Childhood Education Center, she visited preschool classes and held roundtable discussions with district employees and school board members.  Spearman, who said Florence 1 is doing a great job in early childhood education, was impressed with what she saw in the classrooms.  “I keep thinking in my mind when I see all those children what would they be like coming to first grade or kindergarten without these programs. It makes a huge difference in their lives. You are catching them early,” Spearman said.  “It is the right thing to do but it also the best return on investment that you can make in education. You are not just doing it. You are doing it really, really well. You are using the right programs and I just appreciate your willingness to help others.”

Dr. Floyd Creech, director of the Office of School Readiness for Florence 1, said the early childhood program involves many different people.  “It’s not just the schools,” Creech said.

The district’s Start to Read Program seeks to improve early reading opportunities for children by partnering with businesses. Employees receive tips on reading with their children and free books for children three- years-old and younger through the workplace.

Jean Leatherman, wife of Sen. Hugh Leatherman who was speaking on the budget in the Senate on Monday, was one of several individuals who toured R.N. Beck with Spearman. Jean Leatherman participated in discussions about a need to make early childhood education centers structured like R.N. Beck easier to duplicate across the state.

Creech sought and received a waiver to utilize certain state funding to pay for center managers and curriculum coordinators.  Spearman said her office was paying close attention to such waiver requests and looking for ways to eliminate the need for them in some cases.  Porter Stewart, chairman of the Florence 1 school board, told Spearman that while many districts have needs greater than those of Florence 1, the district still has financial needs.  Many of the district’s early education initiatives are supported with local funds.

Spearman said she had wanted to come to Florence but that Sen. Leatherman had also extended an invitation more than once with hopes she would see the benefit of bringing early childhood programs like those in Florence 1 to other districts in the state.  “He called me twice,” Spearman said. “That’s why we are here –just to look and to learn.”  Spearman finished up her visit serving as guest speaker at the Florence Rotary Club meeting held at Victor’s Bistro in Florence where 150 or more were in attendance.  Spearman said the district, community and supporters are “concentrated on early education” and that she had seen “wonderful ideas”.  “Hats off to your county and your school district,” Spearman said.  “We don’t have to always be going outside of South Carolina to find good things happening that we need to replicate.”  Every child whether from “Florence, Lake City, Saluda, Greenwood or Charleston” should have opportunities in education that prepare them for the “next step.”

Spearman said for “too long” technical education has been overlooked as a viable education path.  Though manufacturing needs are great in the state, Spearman said, when surveyed, few high school students identify manufacturing as a career choice.  “We need to let our young people know this is a great career,” Spearman said.  She pointed out that smaller school districts need to work together to meet the needs of students without regard for district lines.  Spearman said a young man in her church is good with working with his hands and would excel in mechatronics.  “The problem in Saluda is, we don’t have a mechatronics program,” Spearman said of the district with roughly 2,400 students.  “They need the opportunities,” Spearman said.  Economic growth is tied to education, she said.  “If we can’t meet the needs of our workforce that growth will stop,” Spearman said.

She was questioned about the recent state Supreme Court ruling on inequity in education across the state. While the courts ruled that the state had failed to provide equitable education across the state in the 20 year old case, lawmakers are left to decide how to remedy the inequity.  Lawmakers in the senate and house have appointed taskforces to focus on the issue.  Spearman serves on a taskforce created by Rep. Jay Lucas.

“We are not working to negotiate with the schools but to develop a solution together,” Spearman said.  Teacher recruitment and retention, transportation and capital needs are among the issues the taskforce is hearing about.  The taskforce is to make recommendation to the legislature by Jan. 1, 2016.  “I’m just so dedicated to making sure this isn’t just a report but becomes a reality,” Spearman said.

Spearman, a native of Saluda County and former music teacher and principal, received a B.A. in Music Education from Lander College, holds a Masters of Arts in Education Supervision from George Washington University, and an Education Specialist Degree from the University of South Carolina. Spearman served four terms as a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives representing Saluda County and portions of Lexington County (House District 39). In 1998, she became the Deputy Superintendent of Education for the South Carolina Department of Education.

The School Foundation receives $550 from Florence Golden K Kiwanis Club Foundation

on Tuesday, 05 May 2015. Posted in News

The School Foundation received a check for $550 on May 5th from the Florence Golden K Kiwanis Club Foundation.  The funds were earmarked to purchase books for their StartSMART program. 

Dancing With The Stars of Florence rocks SiMT, raises thousands for schools

on Wednesday, 01 April 2015. Posted in News

Posted: Tuesday, March 31, 2015 10:48 pm

FLORENCE, S.C. – “Dancing with the Stars of Florence” rocked the Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing and Technology on Tuesday night with riveting performances from 12 celebrities and their professional dance partners, all in the name of raising funds for The School Foundation.

The competition came down to a three-way tie for the coveted judges’ technical skills award but Chris Warner of St. Jude Medical and professional dancer Meggie Baker wowed the audience with their Samba routine to “Treasure” in the dance-off.

Judges called the performance, which included Warner throwing himself to the floor for three repetitions of the “electric worm,” one that had real “crowd appeal.”

“It was my favorite of the night,” said Donna Protho, one of the three judges. The other judges were Robert Rodgers and Amanda Kinseth-Rodgers.

“I had a great time,” Warner said after the win. “My partner, Meggie, was awesome. She made me look great. When we got on stage I knew we had it in the bag.”

Warner said he was thankful he had been asked to participate. “What a great cause and I think they were the big winner tonight,” Warner said.

Warner and Baker edged out fierce competition from Susan Ninichuck of Roche Carolina and professional dancer Jovan Kindred and Robert Watkins of Johnson Controls and professional dancer Drew Arnold, who also preformed in the dance-off.

Watkins and Arnold’s salsa to Usher’s “Caught Up” was an attention-getter. Judges called it a “smooth” and “outstanding” performance.

All three dance duos earned perfect 10s from the judges in the main competition.

Ninichuck and Kindred racked up on special awards, winning the social stars, most entertaining and People’s Choice awards for their highly energetic jive to “Shake It Off.”

“I knew this would be a lot of fun,” said Ninichuck, stealing the spotlight with her spunky retro hairdo and colorful 1980s dress.

“Energy – you had it,” Kinseth-Rodgers said. “The facial expressions –it was so entertaining to watch.”

Ninichuck and Dr. Deepak Chowdhary had trailed Honda’s Michele Pridgen in People’s Choice votes by what seemed like a long shot most of the night. Just minutes before voting closed, Pridgen had 3,386.5 votes, Ninichuck 2,159 and Deepak 2,065.5. Each of those votes is worth $10 to the nonprofit Schools Foundation, which provides grants to Florence School District 1.

By the end of the night, Ninichuck’s online votes surpassed Pridgen’s and totaled 3,580 for $35,800 in donations to the School Foundation and put her in the lead for the People’s Choice Award.

Pridgen and professional dancer Jacob Coward with a jive to “All About that Bass” took second in the People’s Choice with 2,518.5 votes.

Chowdhary and professional dancer Brandi Williamson entertained the audience with their salsa routine to “Dilliwali Girlfriend.” The “Bollywood” influenced dance drew cheers from the audience and ultimately tons of new online votes. The duo took third in the People’s Choice award with 2,085.5 votes ($20,855 in donations.

Others in the celebrity lineup with performances Tuesday night were Mike Miller of the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce and dancer Cheyanne Beck; Ashley Nance of King, Love & Smith Law Firm and dancer Desiree Stokes; Fields Norwood of Lawson Turf Farm and dancer Tiffany Welsh, Steve Wade of the Morning News and dancer Kayce Smith, Will King of W. Lee Flowers and Co. and dancer Amanda Smith, Cedrick Kennedy of Florence School District 1 and Shandi Cox and Rick Ryan of NBSC and dancer Georgeanna Kelley.

The sold-out event, which included a buffet, drew as many as 800 guests and raised more than $187,180 from voting alone.

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