Wukela says future is bright because of FSD1 teachers

on Wednesday, 26 October 2016. Posted in News

Florence City Council chambers were full because hundreds of people packed in for a discussion on building a school for South Florence High School. 

Read more here.

Florence mayor to be honored at gala

on Tuesday, 06 September 2016. Posted in News

Florence mayor to be honored at gala

The annual School Foundation Gala will be held October 25 at the Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing and Technology.

Read more here.

The School Foundation presents $114,006.36 to Florence School District One for 2016-2017 grants

on Saturday, 23 July 2016. Posted in News

The School Foundation presents $114,006.36 to Florence School District One for 2016-2017 grants

Porter Stewart and board member Trisha Caulder received a check on behalf of the district from Debbie Hyler, Executive Director of The School Foundation.

Read more here.

The School Foundation awards more than $114,000 in grants to FSD1

on Tuesday, 17 May 2016. Posted in News

The School Foundation awards more than $114,000 in grants to FSD1

The School Foundation will distribute $114,006.36 in grant awards to schools in Florence School District One for the 2016-2017 school year.

Read more here.

Golden K Kiwanis Club presents checks to four non-profits that assist students

on Tuesday, 17 May 2016. Posted in News

Golden K Kiwanis Club presents checks to four non-profits that assist students

On “Big Give” day, May 3, the Florence Golden K Kiwanis Club presented donations to four charities that directly impact Florence School District One students in appreciation for the work their groups are doing for kids.

Read more here.

Florence leaders strengthen ties with Washington

on Monday, 02 May 2016. Posted in News

Florence leaders strengthen ties with Washington

Mr. Miller goes to Washington.  And quite a few others as well.

Read more here.

Pee Dee business, community leaders travel to Washington, D.C.

on Tuesday, 26 April 2016. Posted in News

Pee Dee business, community leaders travel to Washington, D.C.

Florence city and business leaders got some much-needed face time with lawmakers in Washington D.C.

Read more here.

Dance Partners Introduced at Pairings Party

on Monday, 25 January 2016. Posted in News

Published on January 13, 2016 by The News Journal
Brenda Harrison

A Pairings Party was held at the Floyd Center at Carolinas Hospital System on Jan. 7, to formally announce the 2016 Dancing With The Stars of Florence dance couples.  The couples are:

• Dwayne Brockington and Brandi Williamson
• Adam Crosson and Tiffany Welsh
• Deb Davis and Chris Mixon
• Pam Flowers and Cole Davis
• Dr. Michael K. Foxworth II and Meggie Baker
• Dr. Bill Hazelwood and Drew Arnold
• George Jebaily and Amanda Smith
• Dr. Brian Naylor and Georgeanna Kelley
• Tara Newton and Antonio Robinson
• Dr. Supen Patel and Shandi Cox
• Ray Taylor and Desiree Stokes
• Katie Wilcox and Joseph Steen

On Tuesday, March 22, local celebrities and their professional dance partners will square-off at SiMT for a chance to win the coveted mirror ball trophy at the sixth annual Dancing With The Stars of Florence. The reception will begin at 6 p.m. and the competition at 7 p.m.  Guests will enjoy food, beverages, fellowship, and an opportunity to win a custom designed jewelry piece donated by Lisa and Lex Matthews of Southern Jewelry Design. 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.

Dancers receiving the largest number of online votes will be awarded the "Social Stars" trophy. The School Foundation's board member Ed Love and local celebrity Audra Coble will serve as master and mistress of ceremonies. The 2015 celebrities will perform the opening act and the KFA Fierce team will provide special entertainment throughout the evening.

Founded in 2000, The School Foundation promotes educational excellence in Florence, School District 1 through grants for innovative learning and through high impact initiatives designed to prepare all students for success. To date, the foundation has provided over $1,091,356 in grants to FSD1 educators. For more information, visit www.

Couples paired for annual Dancing With The Stars of Florence

on Friday, 08 January 2016. Posted in News

BY MELISSA ROLLINS Morning This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Published in Morning News on January 8, 2016

FLORENCE, S.C. — The couples are set and the competition has begun. The Dancing with the Stars of Florence Pairing Party was held Thursday night at the Floyd Center at Carolinas Hospital System, giving the new group of celebrity dancers their first look at the competition ahead of them.

Mindy Taylor, School Foundation board member and a member of the planning committee for Dancing with the Stars, said the pairing party is usually the most stressful night for the new dancers because everything is new.  "They are meeting their partner for the first time. They are trying to strategize about selling ads and selling tables," Taylor said. "A lot of it is just the unknown. Once they get into practice, getting past that first practice, they settle into a groove and become really focused."

A new element for 2016 is the mentor: past dancers come back and help new dancers navigate all of the different parts of the competition.  Michele Pridgen danced last year, representing Honda. Now serving as a mentor, Pridgen said she was happy to pass along what she learned. She even came prepared with a binder with spreadsheets.  "Debbie (Hyler) sent me a text and asked if I would be interested in being a mentor this year and sharing some of my secrets for how I raised what I raised," Pridgen said. "My advice for her with the song was to look the list over and pick a song that represented her personality and his. Most importantly pick something they could have fun with. It brings you out of your shell; when I danced, there were some co-workers who had never seen my legs before because I don't ever wear a dress."

Pam Flowers, part of the crop of new dancers, said she was happy to be able to get advice from Pridgen, though actually learning her dance is still ahead of her.  "(At work) they sent an email out asking who wanted to do Dancing with the Stars," Flowers said. "I said 'Why, not' and my boss said 'Really?' Having to learn a choreographed dance makes me a little nervous but hopefully that will be OK. Just show me what I need to do and I'll do it."

In past competitions, all songs were picked by choreographer Burnadene Kelley-Newman. After giving dancers in another Dancing with the Stars event the choice to pick their own song, Kelley-Newman said, she decided to bring the change to Florence as well.  "There are some people that really don't know what they want and they need some ideas," Kelley-Newman said. "So, I put together a list of songs, some older songs and some current songs. Other people have a song in mind and so we gave them the option this year."

The Dancing with the Stars of Florence event takes place at SiMT on the campus of Florence-Darlington Technical College March 22, 2016. Visit for information and to cast your vote starting Feb. 1.

Couples for the 2016 Dancing with the Stars of Florence Competition:

• Dwayne Brockington and Brandi Williamson
• Adam Crosson and Tiffany Welsh
• Deb Davis and Chris Mixon
• Pam Flowers and Cole Davis
• Dr. Michael K. Foxworth II and Meggie Baker
• Dr. Bill Hazelwood and Drew Arnold
• George Jebaily and Amanda Smith
• Dr. Brian Naylor and Georgeanna Kelley
• Dr. Supen Patel and Shandi Cox
• Ray Taylor and Desiree Stokes
• Katie Wilcox and Joseph Steen
• Tara Newton and Antonio Robinson

Dancing With The Stars of Florence contestants announced

on Wednesday, 16 December 2015. Posted in News

Morning News
Posted: Tuesday, December 15, 2015 10:39 pm

FLORENCE, S.C. – The cast of characters for The School Foundation's
2016 Dancing with the Stars of Florence County has been announced.

The local celebrities will meet their dance partner Jan. 7 at a pairing
party. The main event will be held March 22nd at the Southeastern
Institute of Manufacturing and Technology Center
on the Florence-Darlington Technical College campus.

As usual, the celebrity dancers represent a wide array of careers and companies in Florence, from HopeHealth to Pee
Dee Electric Cooperative and even a local elementary school.

The celebrity dancers: Adam Crosson, ReMAX Professionals; Deb Davis, Assurant Specialty Property; Dr. Bill Hazelwood,
McLeod Critical Care Hospitalist; Dr. Brian Naylor, McLeod Pediatric Associates; Dr. Michael Foxworth, HopeHealth;
Dr. Supen Patel, Carolinas Rheumatology & Osteoporosis Center; Dwayne Brockington, First Reliance Bank;
George Jebaily, Jebaily Law Firm; Katie Wilcox, Pee Dee Electric Cooperative; Pam Flowers, PGBA, LLC;
Ray Taylor, Toyota of Florence; Tara Newton, Briggs Elementary.

Tickets to the event are $75 per person. Pricing for tables of eight starts at $1,000. Tickets usually are sold out by the
pairing party, so anyone interested in purchasing tickets or a table should contact foundation Executive Director
Debbie Hyler at 843-662-9996 before Jan. 7.

After Feb. 1,votes can be cast online at for $10 per vote. Multiple awards will be given
out at the end of the event, including "People's Choice," "Technical Skills Winner" and "Most Entertaining."

The 2015 celebrities will perform the opening act, and the KFA Fierce team will provide entertainment throughout the evening.


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.

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