Our district is helping all students develop the world class skills and life and career characteristics of the Profile of the South Carolina Graduate by . . .
At the beginning of the school year, the Florence One Board of Trustees embraced the need to pursue innovation in Florence One Schools. Specific and engaging conversations this year concentrated on district focus areas, resources,technology, instructional delivery, and capital improvements.
Florence One engaged parents and community members in a survey based on its core business: teaching and learning. Some 3, internal and external customers participated in an on-line survey to determine what the school district’s focus areas should be. A group of teachers, school administrators, Board members and central office staff analyzed the survey results which indicated that Florence One’s focus areas should include: literacy, mathematics, early childhood, and technology.
A funding source by the Florence One Board of Trustees to explore innovative programs served as a catalyst for reviewing educational best practices this year. An Innovation Design Team was formed to look for programs to meet the needs of modern children. The Design Team approved programs that were in line with the four focus areas, and they challenged our schools to examine how the resources of time, people, space, technology, and information could be effectively used to meet the needs of our children.
In the area of technology, Florence One conducted an infrastructure assessment to determine if it had the capacity to implement a one-to-one initiative. The term one-to-one is applied to programs that provide all students in a school, district, or state with their own laptop, netbook, tablet computer, or other mobile-computing device. One-to-one refers to one computer for every student.
As a result, Florence One has made an initial purchase/lease agreement for the devices to be used by faculty/staff and students at Southside Middle and at South Florence High beginning in the school year.
Part of the transformation for education involves the instructional delivery system used in our classrooms. Because students of today require different approaches to our sharing information with them, Florence One developed a partnership with Discovery Education. This program provides use of digital content and Techbooks which will provide more opportunities for students to learn at their own pace using the tools they enjoy.
Other programs in Florence One designed to change the instructional delivery model this year include the implementation of a Language Immersion Program beginning with kindergarten students. Although these kindergarten students will be taught using the same South Carolina standards as other kindergarten classes, they will have the opportunity to be taught in both Spanish and English. The program is available at Delmae Elementary to all Florence One parents with a child entering 5K during the school year.
After exploration of the advantages of conducting a year-round school, Timrod Elementary students will have begun their first day of year-round school on July 18, Timrod, along with Lester Elementary, will pilot Achieve , a new literacy program next year.
Florence One continues its concentration on *STEM/STEAM programs and has entered into a partnership with Discovery Place to provide support and professional development for all the schools in our district that are focusing on these areas. Also, in partnership in professional development opportunities with Francis Marion University, Carver Elementary School will become a STEM Magnet School next year.
Beginning this fall, three schools, McLaurin, Greenwood, and Delmae Elementary, will pilot LightSail, a program which allows students to select the books they want to read from a digital library. Teachers will have the ability to assess the reading abilities of students while they develop a love of reading the books they have selected.
The Early College program will be fully implemented this year at Wilson High School, where students will graduate with a high school diploma as well as a two year Associate of Arts degree.
Two schools, Lucy T. Davis Elementary and Sneed Middle, will implement the AVID program beginning this year. AVID, Advancement Via Individual Determination, focuses on closing the academic achievement gap by preparing all students for college.
Florence School District One’s middle and high school teachers in core and career content areas have completed their inaugural training in the Southern Regional Education Board’s Literacy Design Collaborative and Math Design Collaborative. Moreover, other innovations to be explored next year include iStation, NoRedLink, zSpace, and E-Sparks Learning.
In regards to capital improvements, Florence One is in the beginning of Phase II of its building projects, having completed the construction of four new schools in Phase I during the past four years. Earlier this year, administration officials of Florence School District One, the city of Florence and Francis Marion University announced a partnership to renovate three buildings within the city—all owned by Florence One: the Poynor Building, McClenaghan High School, and the RN Beck Early Childhood Center. Money from the city of Florence’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District will allow for renovation of McClenaghan and Poynor, while the school district will replace the RN Beck Child Development Center. Florence One simultaneously will continue with its own building plans.
Finally, through a three-way partnership among Florence One, the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce, and The School Foundation, there emerged a program this past year designed for business and community leaders to spend time getting a unique, behind-the-scenes look into schools in Florence One. It is called the Fellows in Education Program, and will create a cadre of local leaders who will be able to collaborate with policymakers and community members in developing better education policies in the local community.
These new and innovative initiatives are aimed at enhancing learning in the four focus areas as outlined by the community. The initiatives are also designed to provide excellent opportunities for students to graduate from high school both college and career ready.
*STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics
*STEAM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics
FLORENCE, S.C. (WMBF) - Florence 1 School District leaders had the chance to walk through the future home of Southside Middle School.
Contractors expect the school to be complete by next summer. The $40 million project is just one of many projects the district has planned.
“People always question, why did you come to Florence,” Superintendent Dr. Richard O’Malley said. “Well, it gave me an opportunity to start with a blank slate and build almost a whole new school district.”
O’Malley said they held a groundbreaking for the new Southside Middle School shortly after he took over as superintendent.
At the time, the district had no money or plan for the school. But now the building is finally beginning to take shape.
“This building will house 1, students and will take 6th-grade students out of Southside elementary schools and make them K to 5. It’ll get us out of mobiles and this will be our magnet arts school, so it’ll be a showcase to our region on what arts education should look like,” O’Malley said.
All across Florence, the district is building, expanding, and renovating schools.
West Florence High School is in the middle of a 40, sq. ft. expansion.
While the old Southside Middle School will give South Florence High School the ability to house nearly 2, students.
“You know this is part of an overall $25 million renovation to all of our schools that many people don’t even see. That we’ll be highlighting in the month of October about what we’re doing in all of our schools, and I think that’s what we’re trying to do is build a school district and not an individual school,” O’Malley said.
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CPD In the News
The Morning News recently sent out a questionnaire to the candidates running for the Florence School District One Board of Trustees. Here are the answers from Alexis D. Pipkins, Sr. who is running for another term representing District 4; he faces one challenger.
1. What do you feel you have contributed during your current tenure on the board?
My background as a lifelong resident of the Florence Community, and working closely within the region has given me a clear sense of both the educational and economic issues and needs that we face. Over the past 15 years, as a member of the Florence School District 1 Board of Trustees, I have ensured that I have been knowledgeable of the issues, needs, and concerns of my constituents, and I have represented and I have been a voice even during turbulent of challenges. Further, I understand that leadership must be politically astute to represent the views and concerns of those you represent even though others may not agree, or do not care, and only want to advance their own agenda that is only best for “their community” and not all communities. I have attained the Level 6 on the SCSBA, which is the highest level for a school board member, and presently I serve as the President of the SC Caucus of Black School Board Members which provides dialogue on educational issues and concerns to address the full growth and development of Black and other minority children, and I am also affiliated with the National Local Progress Movement which focuses on progressive thought and insight for local officials
2. What are the issues that you think need to be addressed?
Student achievement, and recognizing the individuality and creativity of each student’s needs
Recognizing that the public schools are becoming more diverse
Equity in funding for all schools
Technology infusion and integration for all students
Career Clusters and Pathways- which is more opportunities for expansion of vocational and career center programs
Funding throughout the district
Special Education and meeting the diverse needs of students, to include the increase diagnosis of Autism
Impact of poverty, mental health, and other risk factors have on today’s learners
Lack of teachers
New and innovative approaches to teacher development and recruitment in order to develop and retain a diverse, qualified, and effective 21st Century pool of educators and staff
3. How have you sought to make changes in those areas?
By asking for items to be placed on the agenda, and engaging staff and others throughout the state and country on best practices and promising practices to ensure that we are utilizing the best program for all of our children. Also, researching the issues and knowing the national agenda. I have always committed myself to being engaged and welcoming to constituents and having a listening ear to see what the children are saying and feeling. As an educator and advocate for children and families, I always empathize and evaluate how I would feel when making decisions and question if policies or procedures that are guiding discussion or the direction of the Board are relevant today. I have demonstrated that my approach to knowing what the educational needs and issues are not based on perception or a one way train rail.
4. What specific program are you most proud of in FSD1 and why?
Small Learning Communities at our schools to decrease class sizes
Implementation of the Parents As Teachers Program to address , to provide parents with skills and supports to ensure that their children are ready to enter school
Montessori which provides learners the opportunity to be creative
Career and Technology which provides students the opportunity to enter the work place upon graduation
The work that was done by the previous Discipline Code Committees which has ensured the district recognized inequalities and unfair discipline practices and the underutilization and non-utilization of support services for students with complex needs and behaviors. This dialogue that I led was the foundation for the present Code of Conduct which will have to be assessed over the next few years to evaluate its effectiveness and impact on student learning and behavior.
Early College which provides students the opportunity to receive college credit and even an Associate Degree when they graduate from high school
Present dialogue on a Middle School Concept that has been talked about for years
5. How do you handle inquiries and complaints from the community?
I refer families to the Superintendent’s Office or to the appropriate office for support. I also follow-up with families and community that approach me to ensure that their complaints and inquires have been addressed. I also request items be placed on the agenda for discussion and action.
6. What do you think the role of the board is, in the district and in the community?
The board is responsible for establishing the Vision and Mission for the local school district, and ensuring that the Superintendent has the resources to implement the vision by having good policies and procedures, and good stewards of the district’s Operational Funds and Capital or Building Funds. This role must be student centered and family centered by recognizing the diverse needs of students within our community. Not all students learn in the same manner, thus the board must be aware of such and hold the administration accountable for creating programs and services which will help students achieve and be successful. It is the job of the board to be knowledgeable, and current on educational issues and trends, and not just be a “rubber stamping board” but ask questions, communicate with the public- and not just those who share your personal beliefs and positions.
7. What are your past/other areas of service? (church, civic organizations, etc.)
I am an advocate, teacher, educator, trainer, and servant-leader. Presently, I am employed as the Executive Director of Lee County First Steps, and the Lee County Adult Education Family Literacy Coordinator.
Educational attainments include:
graduate of the historic Wilson High School
Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science and a concentration in Secondary Education Graduate from Winthrop University
Master of Arts Degree in Management from Webster University
Education Specialist Degree Specialization in Leadership in Educational Administration from Capella University
Completion of the Non Profit Leadership Institute from Francis Marion University
Completion of the Francis Marion Rural Leadership Institute
My faith walk began at my home church, Snow Hill Baptist Church where I was active during my youth, and I was licensed to preach at Maxwell Baptist Church where I was Sunday School Teacher, Sunday School Superintendent, Minister of Christian Education and Membership Services, Boys Scout Troop Master. Presently I am a member and ordained Elder of the Gospel () and serve as an Associate Minister and have served as a Youth Advisor at the Greater Gethsemane Apostolic Church in Florence, South Carolina.
Past and Present Civic:
Gate City Masonic Lodge
Florence 1 Local Education Association (SCEA) Treasurer, President
Weed and Seed Steering Committee
Queenie’s Helping Hands Ministry
Angel Tree Prison Ministry
The School Foundation Board
Pee Dee International Festival Planning Committee
PTA (North Vista Elementary, Williams Middle School)
PTSA (Wilson High School)
By Melissa Rollins
District one florence
.South Florence High vs Hartsville High(Football)
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