HARTSVILLE, SC (WMBF) - The 2014 Education Forum brought Darlington County School District teachers and school board members together with state education leaders to talk about what's on teachers' minds.
"Make sure that people higher than just the classroom teachers know that our classrooms are very diverse and they are coming in with everything and we have to deal with it whether it's from home life to not having enough school supplies," said Jill Knight, a social studies teacher at Mayo High School.
The teachers of the year put together questions to ask at an hour-long panel discussion and luncheon at the Hartsville Country Club Friday starting at noon. The panel was made up of Darlington County Board of Education Chairman Warren Jeffords, Superintendent Dr. Eddie Ingram, South Carolina Board of Education Former Chair Dr. David Blackmon, South Carolina Speaker of the House of Representatives Jay Lucas, Representative Robert Williams and Dana Yow, of the South Carolina Education Oversight Committee.
"I thought the teachers asked very challenging questions and they asked challenging questions because we have some great challenges before us in public education," said South Carolina House of Representatives Speaker Jay Lucas, R-Darlington.
One question centered on a plan for one-to-one technology in Darlington County classrooms despite potential e-rate funding cuts.
"We can't back off the technology initiative because we have to prepare kids for their future, not our past," said Eddie Ingram, superintendent of Darlington County Schools.
Year-round schooling was also discussed and Superintendent Ingram said he's interested in creating an optional school for students who need the extra school days.
"I think we have to go to school more days, not less days," he said. "We certainly couldn't afford it district wide, but perhaps look into and study the possibility of having a 210 to 215 day calendar in one of our schools."
The forum is about bringing the issues facing teachers in classrooms every day to the minds of legislators and state education leaders when they're making decisions.
"It can be frustrating sometimes and I think it helps for them to hear what's going on at the policy level and that we hear their concerns and we're trying to address them the best we can," said Dana Yow, of the South Carolina Education Oversight Committee.
Also, at the beginning of the forum, the Jimmy Newsom Award was presented to House Speaker Lucas for making a positive difference in the school district. Speaker Lucas, his son, father and grandfather all attended Darlington County schools.