Local dancers meet partners for Dancing With The Stars of Florence

on Monday, 19 January 2015. Posted in News

Published in the News Journal 1/13/2015 12:57:00 PM

The dancers for the 5th Annual Dancing With The Stars of Florence have been paired with partners and chosen their songs for this popular competition and benefit to take place on Tuesday, March 31. All funds raised go to the School Foundation. This year's celebrity dancers paired with professionals are: Mike Miller and Cheyanne Beck; Robert Watkins and Drew Arnold; Michele Pridgen and Jacob Coward; Ashley Nance and Desiree Stokes; Fields Norwood and Tiffany Welsh; Dr. Deepak Chowdhary and Brandi Williamson; Steve Wade and Kayce Smith; Chris Warner and Meggie Baker; Will King and Amanda Smith; Dr. Susan Ninichuck and Jovan Kindred; Cedric Kennedy and Shandi Cox; Rick Ryan and Georgeanna Kelley.

These local celebrities and their professional dance partners will square-off at SiMT for a chance to win the coveted mirror ball trophy at the 5th Annual Dancing With The Stars of Florence. The reception will begin at 6 p.m. and the competition will begin at 7 p.m. Guests will enjoy food, beverages, fellowship, and an opportunity to win a custom-designed piece of jewelry, donated by Lisa and Lex Matthews of Southern Jewelry Design. A limited number of tables and individual tickets went on sale to the public on Jan. 12. Pricing for tables of eight guests begins at $1,000 and individual tickets sell for $75. Over $480,000 has been raised from this benefit over the last four years. After Feb. 1, fans can vote online for their favorite couple(s) at for only $10 per vote.

The "People's Choice" mirror ball trophies will be awarded to the three couples raising the most votes. A panel of judges will name one couple "Technical Skills Winner" based on the contestants' overall skills. One couple will also be chosen as "Most Entertaining" by the judges. You can follow the dancers' progress on Facebook at Dancing With The Stars of Florence. The School Foundation's board member Ed Love and local celebrity Audra Coble will be master and mistress of ceremonies. The 2014 celebrities will perform the opening act and the KFA Fierce team will provide special entertainment throughout the evening.

About The School Foundation Founded in 2000, The School Foundation promotes educational excellence in Florence, SC School District 1 through grants for innovative learning and through high impact initiatives designed to prepare all students for success. To learn more about The School Foundation, visit their website at www. To date, the foundation has provided over $962,000 in grants to FSD1 educators and is currently leading a school readiness awareness campaign focusing on preparing all children to enter kindergarten with the skills needed to succeed. The foundation also launched Start2Read, a program that distributes age appropriate books and reading tips in local businesses.

Florence's School Foundation gets $5,000 check from Duke Energy

on Wednesday, 14 January 2015. Posted in News

Posted: Tuesday, January 13, 2015 9:00 pm
BY MELISSA ROLLINS Morning News This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

FLORENCE, S.C. — Early Childhood Education programs in Florence School District 1 got a boost from Duke Energy on Tuesday morning when a $5,000 check was presented to The School Foundation.

The presentation was made by Mindy Taylor, Duke government and community relations manager, at the R.N. Beck Child Development Center. Taylor said Duke recognizes the importance of supporting the communities where the company operates.

“Duke has a long history of investing in the community,” Taylor said. “We want all of our students to have bright futures and all of those bright futures start in the classroom.”

Taylor said getting a good foundation gives students a strong start.

“We want every child to reach their potential and reading is such a critical component of that success,” Taylor said. “That is why we felt it was important to partner with The School Foundation and Florence District One to help them purchase the books, to help students start learning at an early age to get that good foundation.”

After the check presentation, Taylor and Debbie Hyler, executive director of The School Foundation, also handed out books to students at the school.

Beck 4K teacher Mitzi Jones said she was thrilled that her students will have another book they can add to their personal libraries at home.

“In this classroom my main goal is to include literacy in every aspect,” Jones said. “They love to read books and look at pictures and they are very excited to have a book to take home and look at.”

Jones said having community partners in education is key to the success of schools, teachers and students.

“I think it is important that the community is showing support,” Jones said. “It really does take a village to raise a child and I am happy to have the support. I think that it is great that Duke is providing books for the students.”

Hyler said the money presented to T he School Foundation will go toward purchasing books. Students in the Start Smart, Start 2 Read programs will be benefiting from the donation. Books will also be distributed through Reach Out and Read, which provides books to pediatrician offices to give out to their young patients.

2015 Dancing With the Stars of Florence Contestants Announced

on Monday, 12 January 2015. Posted in News

Posted: Tuesday, January 6, 2015 8:27 pm

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

FLORENCE, S.C. — It is time once again for Florence County to strap on its dancing shoes. This spring, Dancing with the Stars of Florence returns for its fifth year. The dancing duos met for the first time Tuesday night at a pairing party, where they picked their song and the style of dance they would be tackling.

Debbie Hyler, executive director for The School Foundation, said she is excited to start another season of the crowd-pleasing fundraiser.

“I think it is so popular because it is just fun,” Hyler said. “Think about the people you work with; wouldn’t you like to see them dance? Honestly, for the companies that participate, it is almost a team - building exercise for the business. They all chip in and come up with marketing ideas to get votes. It is just a great time.”

Each dancing pair is made up of a local ‘celebrity’ and a ‘professional’ dancer.

As in years past, the lineup includes a who’s who of business professionals and dancers from Florence County. There are doctors, dance teachers, lawyers, public school educators and dance students. If Tuesday night was any indication, the new cast is up for the challenge and ready to raise money for The School Foundation.

Rick Ryan, a ‘celebrity’ with NBSC, said that he was eager to start practicing and see what he and his partner can do.

“I volunteered to do it,” Ryan said. “I’m ready to roll with this thing. I’m pretty excited to do it. Seeing how many people would be doing it, that made me a little bit nervous but I think I can do it. Before our wedding, my wife and I had maybe eight lessons, but it is kind of different when you are dancing in front of people you know.”

Jovan Kindred, a returning ‘professional’ and last year’s 1st Place People’s Choice winner, said he enjoyed his time with the event last year and was happy to be invited to participate again.

“It is always so fun to be involved with The School Foundation and Dancing with the Stars,” Kindred said. “They asked me last year and I thought ‘Why not’. They must have thought I was good enough to ask me to come back again.”

The Dancing with the Stars event will take place March 31 at SiMT but the dancers will have long months of choreography and practice ahead of them.

While much of the evening will be dedicated to the dancers in the 2015 competition, there will also be an opening act performance by the 2014 contestants and performances throughout the evening by the KFA Fierce team from Kelley’s Fine Arts.

The website featuring all of the new contestants’ pictures and biographies is expected to be up and running around the beginning of February.

2015 Dancing with the Stars of Florence Pairs

Celebrity  Company

Dance Partner 

Dr. Deepak Chowdhary 

Pee Dee Gastroenterology Associates

Brandi Williamson

Cedric Kennedy

South Florence High School

Shandi Cox

Will King

IGA Food Stores/KJ's Market

Amanda Smith

Mike Miller

Florence Chamber of Commerce

Cheyanne Beck

Ashley Nance

King, Love and Smith Attorneys at Law

Desiree Stokes

Dr. Susan Ninichuck

Roche Carolina

Jovan Kindred

Fields Norwood

Lawson Turf Farm

Tiffany Welsh

Michele Pridgen

Honda of the Carolinas

Jacob Coward

Rick Ryan


Georgeanna Kelley

Stephen Wade

Morning News

Kayce Smith

Robert Watkins

Johnson Controls

Drew Arnold

Chris Warner

St. Jude Medical 

Meggie Baker 

EDITORIAL: Businesses play big role in early education

on Monday, 08 December 2014. Posted in News

Posted: Sunday, December 7, 2014 5:30 am

Morning News

Tuesday at Alfred Rush Academy in Quinby, Sen. Hugh K. Leatherman, R-Florence, gave and received.

He gave Florence School District 1 a check from the state for $147,500, the last quarterly payment for financing a school readiness program. He received a positive report on how the program has done.

He expressed delight in the progress and talked about talking to Molly Spearman, the new state Superintendent of Education, about taking the program statewide.


How about that?

An incredible success story continues to take shape right here in Florence.

“We’re really beyond what we dreamed,” said Tammy Pawloski, a professor of education at Francis Marion University and director of the Center of Excellence. “All of the pieces have fallen into place. Our school board unanimously has embraced this idea. We should be a model across the state. It definitely is a proud time that this is coming from the Pee Dee, from our visionary thinkers.”

It’s time to pause and reflect on where this initiative started, where it is and where it is going.

The roll call of leaders would be long, but Pawloski starts by giving credit to Debbie Hyler with The School Foundation and Richard Harrington of The School Foundation’s board. The Florence School District 1’s administration – including Floyd Creech, the district’s director of school readiness – and the board have played instrumental parts. Leatherman’s political clout has been important.

But where would this movement be without Pawloski? Her expertise in neuroscience and early childhood education, plus a passion to share her wisdom, is making a difference in a community that has needed help.

Discussions about leveraging the business community started in 2011 and led six months later to the Business Leaders Summit on Early Childhood Investment. It drew more than 450 people to the Southern Institute of Manufacturing and Technology at Florence-Darlington Technical College.

“We captured a business audience and helped them understand,” Pawloski said. “Educators are not going to make this happen. Educators can’t make it happen. Business people support it on all levels. They support employees improving their parenting skills.”

The business community has come a long way in a short time.

“Historically, business people thought the important work began not even at first grade,” Pawloski said. “They thought it began in high school.”

This was an awakening.

“We can predict a fourth-grade reading level at about 18 months – before a child speaks – based on the vocabulary used by parents,” Pawloski said. “By age 5, 90 percent of the neuroconnections are in place, yet look who’s wiring our children.”

Thanks to support from businesses, more parents are participating in pilot programs.

“We’re teaching parents how to use books effectively in growing their child’s brain,” Pawloski said. “We’re growing a population of parents who better understand the power they have to change their child’s brain just in how they read a bedtime story.”

Dividends will come.

“Employers will see the return on their investment in 12 years, when these children grow up and become their workforce,” Pawloski said. “Imagine what that social capital will grow into financially. The better we do in early childhood education, the better the state will do economically.”

Pawloski’s vision for the future is bold.

“Libraries of books in every home, viewed by children and parents as their most prized possessions, and they use them and soak them up,” she said.

“In five years, we’ll have a reduced number of special education students. There’s such a trickle down if we change parenting skills. I envision a reduced dropout rate, an increased graduation rate, increased attendance rates, fewer disciplinarian problems in school. Reduced unemployment, because we’ll have a more marketable workforce. Fewer teen pregnancies. A reduced crime rate. That’s what education will provide. That’s what we’re paying up front for.”

It’s hardly a cost. This is a monumental investment.

When we get to a bright tomorrow, remember yesterday and today. And don’t forget the people who are making it happen.

Unsigned editorials represent the views of this newspaper. Editorial board members are Stephen Wade (regional publisher), Don Kausler Jr. (regional editor), Kimberly Brauss (online editor) and David Johnson (regional circulation director).

Early childhood program in Florence 1 showing progress

on Wednesday, 03 December 2014. Posted in News

Posted: Tuesday, December 2, 2014 7:26 pm


FLORENCE, S.C. – S.C. Sen. Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence, visited Alfred Rush Academy in Quinby on Tuesday to hear about the progress of the school readiness program started by Florence School District 1 and The School Foundation.

Leatherman said he was pleased to see how much the program has grown in its first year. “I saw the results today and thought, ‘Wow, it’s working,’” Leatherman said. “That’s why I am going to talk to the new Superintendent of Education, Molly Spearman, and see if we can get this program statewide.”

Leatherman said he sees the benefits of Florence 1’s Start SMART program and wants to see South Carolina politicians focus on other programs like it that will improve the lives of the state’s citizens.

“This is what I have tried to do in my time in the Senate,” Leatherman said. “I have tried to look for programs like this that will be better for all of our citizens, particularly these young ones.”

Part of the presentation Tuesday included Leatherman giving Florence 1 representatives a check for $147,500. The check was the final quarterly payment from the state for its share of the financing of the five-year pilot program. The state agreed to pay for the first four years; Florence 1 will be responsible for paying for the fifth year.

School board member Trisha Caulder was present Tuesday and said that as a big proponent of early education, she is thrilled the district has made it a priority.

“It is fantastic, seeing the excitement in the parents and the children in the program,” Caulder said. “Family literacy is what I did in the district for a long time. To be able to see things that we have wanted to happen for so long happening now is amazing. And it is all because we all came together. It is a partnership, and Sen. Leatherman is a huge part of that partnership.”

The preschool program in Florence 1 had about 400 students enrolled last year at the start of the early childhood initiative. Now roughly 700 students, including special needs children, are enrolled.

The school district and The School Foundation partnered with businesses in the community, working with their employees to encourage them to start their children’s learning early in their homes.

Relationships also were formed with local childcare providers and doctors’ offices to ensure children are receiving health screenings.

EDITORIAL: Three cheers in support of education

on Monday, 20 October 2014. Posted in News

Posted: Thursday, October 9, 2014 5:15 am

Morning News

Another gala by The School Foundation has come and gone, and what an event it was Tuesday at the Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing and Technology center.

Three cheers for an event that is supported well by businesses and individuals in Florence, which speaks well for the community. A large ballroom was filled by citizens who help the foundation fulfill its mission of promoting excellence in education in public schools in Florence School District 1.

The first cheer: Each year, The School Foundation has recognized a distinguished graduate of FSD1 schools, and it has had some worthy recipients over the years. This year’s recipient – William Hubbard – was an outstanding choice. The McClenaghan High School graduate went to the University of South Carolina, where he ultimately graduated from law school. In August, he became the first lawyer from South Carolina to be named the president of the American Bar Association. How impressive is that?

Hubbard is the son of a Florence school teacher, and he delivered an exceptional speech about the importance of education.  “Education is a battle, but it’s a battle that we must win,” he said. “At stake is our future.”  Hubbard spoke about the important role that teachers play in society.  “It’s our duty to support you,” he said.  He expressed concern about the direction our nation is going, saying a “vaccuum of knowledge” threatens us.

Hubbard issued a challenge.  “Be champions for teaching,” he said. “For freedom to ring, our school bells must ring, loudly and clearly.”  On the podium was a symbol: a bell that his mother was presented in 1980 after teaching 21 years at a FSD1 school.

The second cheer: The School Foundation also recognized the teacher of the year from each of 22 FSD1 schools. Four were chosen as an “Honor Roll” teacher: Lindsey Bibler at South Florence High, Jessica Crowson at Lester Elementary, Marianne Gaskins at North Vista Elementary and Kendall Scott at Savannah Grove Elementary. Bibler, who teaches calculus and pre-calculus, then was announced as the FSD1 Teacher of the Year. She will be the district’s candidate in South Carolina Teacher of the Year award consideration next year. Congratulations to all, and to Bibler in particular.

The third cheer: Let’s hear it for The School Foundation itself. The event Tuesday is one of two major fundrasiers that it holds each year. The other one is Dancing with the Stars of Florence County, which is held in the spring.

Counting money that has been raised this year, the foundation has raised more than $1 million that goes toward grants to fund programs and projects that support and contribute to FSD1’s teachers and students. The foundation’s baby is Start SMART, a program that is aimed at babies. It assists parents in preparing their children for kindergarten.

There were many standing ovations Tuesday night, and deservedly so. Hubbard, the teachers of the year and The School Foundation itself can all take a bow for the good work that they have done and will continue to do.

The School Foundation Honors Distinguished Graduate and Names Teacher of the Year

on Wednesday, 08 October 2014. Posted in News

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

FLORENCE, S.C. — More than 700 hundred people gathered Tuesday night in Florence to celebrate education at the 13th annual School Foundation Gala. 

The gala, held at Florence-Darlington Technical College's Southeastern Institute of Management and Technology, is one of two principal fundraisers each year for the foundation. The second, Dancing with the Stars of Florence County, is held in April.

The culmination of the gala was the announcement of the FSD1 Teacher of the Year. Lindsey Bibler, a math teacher from South Florence High School, was chosen as the district's overall Teacher of Year. Bibler, who teaches Calculus and Pre-Calculus, was chosen from the district's 22 schools by a three-person selection committee and also named an Honor Roll Teacher.

Bibler's name will be submitted to the South Carolina Department of Education, where she will represent FSD1 and vie for the S.C. Teacher of the Year award next year.

Each year, the foundation takes money that is donated and gives grants to schools within FSD1 to use for projects that are submitted by district teachers. Some of the grant money goes toward technology, something that McLaurin Elementary School Montessori teacher Louise Cox thinks is vital to keeping students up to date with the changing world.  "I think the Foundation has really helped our district with technology," Cox said. "Students today, my grandkids and the kids I teach, are living in the technological era, so they need to learn how to use it. We are even teaching our kindergarten age kids how to use a computer in computer lab. The Foundation helps fund that."  Cox said that in the current economy, not all school districts can always afford everything they need.  "All school districts have been hit hard," Cox said. "We need the School Foundation to get things that we need for the district."

Gala attendees were entertained by Judge James E. Lockemy of the S.C. State of Appeals and the members of the Wilson High School Mock Trial Team. The team's waged 'The Great Debate' over whether Carolina and Clemson should be named the flagship school of South Carolina. In the end, it was a tie.

FSD1 Alumni William Hubbard was honored as the 2014 Distinguished Graduate. He graduated from McClenaghan High School before earning his bachelor's degree from the University of South Carolina and his Juris Doctor from the USC School of Law. In August 2014, Hubbard was the first lawyer from South Carolina to be named the President of the American Bar Association.

Debbie Hyler , School Foundation Executive Director, said she was pleased with the turnout Tuesday night because it meant that the foundation could continue to provide support for teachers and students of FSD1. 
"To date, the School Foundation has given over $960,000 in grants to the students and educators of Florence District 1," Hyler said. "With the continued support of individuals and the community we are able to give more and more grants. We feel like the grants make a difference in the every day lives of the students."

The School Foundation to honor William Hubbard at upcoming gala

on Monday, 25 August 2014. Posted in News

Published in the Morning News Thursday, August 21, 2014 3:59 pm

Florence, S.C. —William Hubbard, a 1970 graduate of McClenaghan High School, will be honored as FlorenceSchool District 1’s Distinguished Graduate at the 13th Annual School Foundation Celebration Gala to be held on Tuesday, October 7, foundation officials announced recently.

“We are excited to recognize William as our 2014 distinguished graduate,” said Debbie Hyler, executive director of The School Foundation. “As the first attorney in South Carolina to be named president of the American Bar Association, William’s success proves that our goals can be attained through hard work and perseverance. His continued motivation inspires us to continue to pursue our dreams.”

Jean Leatherman, the chairwoman of the foundation’s fund development committee, said that the foundation aims to inspire and challenge students and faculty every year by spotlighting the life and career of a successful Florence 1 graduate.

“This year’s honoree is extraordinary, with a distinguished legal career and exceptional service to Florentines and South Carolinians!,” Leatherman said. “William Hubbard epitomizes all that is good about life in Florence: good family, good Christian values, and quality schools that prepare you for global success and service.”

Born and raised in Florence, Hubbard attended Royall Elementary, Moore Junior High, and McClenaghan High. He graduated with a B.A. in History from the University of South   Carolina in 1974 and received his Juris Doctor from the USC School of Law in 1977. Hubbard practices business litigation at Nelson, Mullins, Riley & Scarborough in Columbia. In addition to his ABA leadership, he chairs the board of directors of the World Justice Project, a multinational, multidisciplinary initiative to strengthen the rule of law worldwide. He has served on the board of trustees of the University of South   Carolina since 1986, and served as chairman of the board from 1996-2000.

During his term as president of the ABA, Hubbard will focus on legal education reform, access to justice for the poor and middle class through innovation, sentencing reform, diversity in the legal profession, and helping young lawyers succeed in their craft.

The School Foundation promotes educational excellence in FlorenceSchool District 1 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 $962,000 in grants to educators in FlorenceSchool District 1.

The event will be held at the Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing and Technology (SiMT). It begins at 5:30 p.m. and will end promptly at 9 p.m. Tickets start at $75 for FSD1 educators and $100 for individuals. Reserved tables of eight begin at $1,000 (bronze sponsorship), $2,500 (silver), $5,000 (gold) and $10,000 (platinum). 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 by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . You can also purchase tickets on the foundation’s website,

Attorney reaches profession's 'pinnacle'

on Monday, 11 August 2014. Posted in News

Columbia lawyer William Hubbard will be sworn in Monday in Boston as president of the American Bar Association.

“He has achieved what for American lawyers is really the pinnacle,” said S.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Jean Toal, who is interrupting a family vacation to fly to Boston at her own expense to swear in Hubbard during the association’s annual convention.

Toal said she had been a mentor to Hubbard since he was a law student and she was a member of the General Assembly back in the mid-1970s.

“To have a really grounded experienced trial lawyer from a small state navigate all the politics in a big national organization to the extent of being able to speak for all American lawyers is just quite a wonderful thing,” Toal said.

Hubbard, a member of the Nelson Mullins law firm and a longtime member of USC’s board of trustees, will be the first South Carolinian to lead the ABA.

There are about 1 million lawyers in the United States, and some 400,000 are members of the ABA. The group has about 600 employees in Chicago, its headquarters, as well as about 300 in Washington, D.C. As president, Hubbard is CEO of the group, as well as chief spokesperson.

To become ABA head, Hubbard, 62, spend years cultivating relationships with lawyers around the country, serving on numerous committees and rising through a legal hierarchy.

“It’s a great honor for me, and I hope the state of South Carolina, to represent the state and to lead the American legal profession,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

Hubbard said he expects his 12-month tenure as president will be full of travel around the nation and world (a trip to China is in the offing), speeches, interviews with journalists, attending various bar and judicial conferences, meetings with the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Supreme Court, as well as testimony before Congressional committees – to name a few.

“It will take up the vast majority of my time over the next 12 months,” Hubbard said. Nelson Mullins is supportive, he said. Other partners will handle his legal work, he said.

Hubbard said his goals include working to close what he calls “the justice gap.”

“Despite all the efforts of pro bono lawyers and legal service lawyers, we still have a large segment of the population that is not being served by our justice system,” Hubbard said. Some 80 percent of poor people, and some 70 percent of people of moderate means, don’t have access to the civil legal system because of costs or complexity or unfamiliarity with the system, he said.

To address that, Hubbard said, he has put together a “blue ribbon commission” including academics and lawyers and technology experts that will try to help the ABA make the justice system more efficient and accessible to people with problems from disability rights to wills.

“In some states, in family court, in 95 percent of the cases, one party or the other is not represented,” Hubbard said.

Other areas: trying to get more representation for victims of domestic violence and their children, making sure children who cross the U.S. southern border illegally get due process, working to get programs instead of prison for non-violent offenders and spreading the word about the rule of law and human rights to less developed nations.

Hubbard hasn’t held political office. But since 1986, he has been a member of the University of South Carolina board of trustees – a position that requires him to lobby members of the Legislature to vote for him every four years to retain his seat.

USC president Harris Pastides said Hubbard’s tenure to ABA president will help the university and the state.

“The coattails of an ABA president are very long,” Pastides said. “Wherever he goes, he’ll be taking USC and the state with him. It’s a remarkable achievement.”

As trustee, Hubbard is known for his efforts to beautify the campus and develop architectural guidelines. “Around campus, I’m known as a tree-hugger,” he allowed. “I spent a lot of time urging them to plant trees.”

Hubbard said he hopes to attend the trustees’ meetings – “as many as I can” – over the next year, as well as “a couple of football games.”

Pediatricians Call For Parents To Read Aloud To Their Children Every Day

on Tuesday, 24 June 2014. Posted in News

Published in The Huffington Post - June 24, 2014

If your child's next visit to the pediatrician includes a clear emphasis on reading, don't be surprised.

On Tuesday, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued its first-ever policy statement focused on literacy promotion, calling for pediatricians to advise all parents about the many benefits of reading aloud, which promotes literacy and social-emotional skills.

"Reading with young children is a joyful way to build strong and healthy parent-child relationships and stimulate early language development," Dr. Pamela High, a pediatrician and professor at Brown University's Alpert Medical School, told The Huffington Post.

"The benefits are so compelling that encouraging reading at check-ups has become an essential part of care," added High, who was the lead author on the new statement.
Numerous studies have measured the importance of reading aloud. However, one 2007 estimate found that fewer than half of young children in the United States are read to on a daily basis. Every year, more than one in three children in the United States starts kindergarten without the language skills required to learn how to read, according to data cited in the new statement.

The problem is particularly pronounced among children born into low-income families, who hear fewer words in early childhood and know fewer words by age 3, the authors write.
But many high-income families also fall short: The 2011 to 2012 National Survey of Children's Health found that in families with incomes at or below the federal poverty threshold, only 34 percent of children age 5 and under were read to daily. In families whose incomes were 400 percent of the poverty threshold, however, 60 percent of those children were read to daily.

"Even in higher-income families, many children do not experience the enhanced engagement and language-rich parent-child interactions, including book handling, print exposure and other early literacy experiences afforded by daily shared reading," the authors write. "All families face issues of limited time, limited parental understanding of the key role of reading aloud and competition for the child's interest and attention from other sources of entertainment, such as electronic media."

The new statement, aimed at the American Academy of Pediatrics' 62,000 members, urges pediatricians to talk to parents about how critical reading aloud is for children's brain development and literacy skills, and to provide books during visits for all low-income, high-risk children.

It also argues that literacy promotion should be included in pediatric residency programs, and it calls for federal and state funding to help manage the costs of making age-appropriate books available during routine care.

As for parents, High said they should remember the so-called "5 Rs" of early education: reading with their children daily as part of a set routine; rhyming, singing and cuddling with them throughout the day; establishing routines and regular times for meals and sleep; rewarding them for their efforts and successes to boost self-esteem; and developing relationships that are reciprocal and nurturing. Parents should make daily reading a part of their regular, set routine.
"Pediatricians are taking a stand to spread the news more widely that early shared reading is both fun and ultimately very rewarding," she said.

Principal, Student Pair wins Dancing With The Stars

on Tuesday, 13 May 2014. Posted in News

Posted: Thursday, April 10, 2014 10:53 pm
ELLEN MEDER, Morning News

FLORENCE, S.C. — After a five-way tie of perfect scores, the judges of Dancing With The Stars of Florence named a new pair of technical skills winners Thursday night: Southside Middle School Principal Craig Washington and his dance partner and South Florence High senior Cheyanne Beck.  Dancing an energetic jive to "Shake a Tail Feather," including several tricks, spins and lifts, the pair took home the coveted mirror ball trophy after a dance-off to help the judges select from the top contenders.  "I'm excited, I am just completely overwhelmed," Washington said. "Shocked and surprised, but just happy. I've had a great partner, she is just fabulous and she just worked with me and it really paid off."

The event is the main fundraiser for The School Foundation, a nonprofit charged with providing grants to Florence School District 1 classrooms and helping bolster school readiness in the area. Washington said that seeing how much good The School Foundation does made him sign up to help out, even though his primary art-related talent is using instruments to play music, not dancing to it.  Washington's mirror ball will sit out in the front office of Southside, which is known for its arts-integrated curriculum, where he said he hopes it will serve as an inspiration for students that "hard work pays off."

The other pairs who earned perfect scores in the first round were Rob Ardis and Sarah Johnson, Nick Townsend and Meggie Baker, John Chase and his new 11th hour partner Brea Boatwright, Jeff Stevens and Rebecca Kelley and FitzLee McEachin and Georganna Kelley.  Ardis, the COO of Pee Dee Electric Cooperative, and Johnson, also a South Florence senior, might not have snagged the mirror ball, but they did walk away with trophies for most entertaining. The outgoing pair locked away the win with an acrobatic, cheerleader-themed dance to "Hey Mickey" that wowed the judges and elicited some of the most crowd involvement.

Michelle Cato, of Roche Carolina, and her partner Jovan Kindred won the people's choice award, followed by runners-up Jeff Stevens with Carolina Canners Inc. and Dr. Rakesh Chokshi of Pee Dee Spine Center.  The people's choice award was decided by public voting that has been going on since January via online, $10 ballots, but ended in a flurry of cash and checks from the audience — which included nearly 750 of Florence's movers and shakers.  With approximately 18,975 votes cast, that's well over $189,700 going to The School Foundation.  Executive Director Debbie Hyler said it's still to early to tell how much the event netted the organization, but she said it was one of the group's most successful events to date.

"I think it went great. I think we had a great variety of dancers and dance styles and the crowd I think just had a really good time," she said. "We had great support. so I'm sure it was a very successful event monetarily, so we're excited."

This year The School Foundation board is poised to dole out more than $151,000 in grants, some large and some as small as $500, to classrooms around Florence 1. The deadline for applications this year is April 25. For more information on how to donate to The School Foundation or how to educators can apply for grants visit

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