Five schools named Palmetto’s Finest

S. C. Association of School Administrators Honors SC Schools across the State

COLUMBIA—Five schools have been named the 2018 Palmetto’s Finest Schools. They are:

Batesburg-Leesville Elementary in Batesburg-Leesville, Lexington District Three
Joseph R. Pye Elementary in Ladson, Dorchester District Two
Chapin Middle in Chapin, Lexington-Richland District Five
Chapman High in Inman, Spartanburg District One
Mayo High School for Math, Science and Technology in Darlington, Darlington County Schools

About 1,000 excited teachers, school supporters and education leaders gathered in their respective schools on Tuesday, March 20, to learn which schools would take the top honors. The schools had progressed through an intensive application process requiring self-evaluation, peer review and two on-site examinations. The application and visits verified evidence of exceptional student achievement, instructional programs, professional learning communities, and school culture.

Batesburg-Leesville Elementary (Batesburg-Leesville, principal, Jaime Hembree) serves 496 students in third through fifth grade. Using the Profile of the South Carolina Graduate as their blueprint, students at Batesburg-Leesville Elementary have many opportunities to be innovators. The school is proud to offer the School of Journalism, honors choir, school safety squad, Girls on the Run, Panther Prowl boys running club, Zumba team, MakerSpaces, coding and a community garden. A recently named TransformSC school, Batesburg-Leesville Elementary is implementing personalized learning for all students through rigorous, engaging and individualized instruction.

Joseph R. Pye Elementary (Ladson, principal, Wanda Carroll-Williams) serves over 900 students in Pre-K through 5th grade using 21st Century Learning in a STEAM-friendly environment. Joseph R. Pye Elementary was named a 2017 National Partners in 21st Century Learning Exemplar School and has received the South Carolina 21st Century Community Learning Center Grant for four years in a row. The school’s mission is “to keep the needs of all students and their learning first”, and they do this by preparing today’s learners to become tomorrow’s leaders through exploring, discovering, learning and leading.

Chapin Middle (Chapin, principal, Anna Miller) serves 849 seventh and eighth graders, and their mission is to ensure that all students are prepared to succeed by providing a challenging curriculum that develops intellectual, social, and emotional growth within a safe, supportive learning environment. Chapin Middle School has achieved excellent ratings, Palmetto Gold and Silver awards, and recently received national designation as a School to Watch. The faculty and staff ensure that all students are safe, happy, and learning by cultivating 21st century skills and educating the whole child through academies such as photography, Yoga, and Zumba.

Chapman High (Inman, principal, Ty Dawkins) serves over 850 students in grades 9-12, and fosters an environment of acceptance, respect, and kindness where students achieve excellence in and out of the classroom. A rigorous curriculum is offered and includes 17 Advanced Placement and Dual Credit courses, award-winning academic arts and journalism programs, championship athletic teams, and a myriad of community service projects. Chapman High School boasts a graduation rate of over 93%, and students consistently outperform students from comparable high schools across the state on standardized assessments. In 2017, they received the US News and World Report Bronze Medal.

Mayo High School for Math, Science and Technology (Darlington, principal, Arlene Wallace) serves 286 students in grades 9-12, and is a nationally-ranked, countywide public magnet secondary school. They exemplify excellence and motivate students to reach their highest potential by combining strong academics with a STEAM focus in math, science, and technologies with enhanced humanities courses, supplemented with study groups and life skills sessions. Mayo High School’s test scores are above state and national averages, and they boast a 100% graduation rate, with 97% of alumni matriculating to a post-secondary institution, while accruing more than $8-12 million in scholarships on average.

“The Palmetto’s Finest award winners are models of innovation throughout our state,” said SCASA’s Beth Phibbs. “They set the standard of excellence by creating an outstanding school culture which includes setting high expectations and providing opportunities for personalized learning.”

Presenting the awards to the five winners were Brenda Byrd (Chairman of the Palmetto’s Finest Committee), Dr. David Mathis (President, SC Association of School Administrators), The Honorable Molly Spearman (SC Superintendent of Education) and Judi Gatson (Emcee and Anchor of WIS-TV).

SCASA is the professional organization for school leaders in South Carolina, with a membership of more than 4,300. From professional development opportunities and research, to publications and legislative advocacy, SCASA’s focus is to support school leaders in providing the best possible education for South Carolina’s young people. As a state affiliate of three national associations for school leaders, SCASA also works on the national level.


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