Florence students head back to school, district gives advice

Florence students head back to school, district gives advice

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - Florence School District One kicked off their school year on Monday, and with it comes innovative school programs.

This year, Florence One is expecting well over 16,500 students from pre-K to 12th grade. The school district has some advice for parents to help tackle the first couple of weeks, and new curriculum to help students learn better.

"We're so excited for a new school year and so fortunate as educators that we have a new start, and children have a new start every year," said Susan Collins, principal at Greenwood Elementary School. "My recommendation and advice and encouragement to parents is to stay in touch with the school and with your children's teachers. We are a team, we can't do it alone and you can't do it alone. We need to work together for the best of our children."

It's Collins' 11th first day of school as principal of Greenwood Elementary and has taught for years at schools around Florence One. Collins said it's all about teamwork between parents, students and teachers to start the year out right.

"Our first day has been a very good and quiet day," said Randy Koon, the assistant superintendent for the district. "Our teachers last week participated in a professional development program; we had 1,500 professionals involved in that. They went to different sessions where they learned different strategies to assist in the classroom."

Transportation is something all the schools are very cautious of. Greenwood parents start lining up in the car line an hour before nearly 700 students are dismissed. The school asks that every car go through the line to pick up and drop off, as it makes the process safer and ensures staff meets the kids.

A continued program across all Florence One schools is the Read to Succeed initiative. It is funded through the state to give professional development and reading coaches.

All of the educators have taken literacy courses the past year to implement inside the classroom. Greenwood students will now use digital books to allow for interaction with teachers.

A brand new Florence One district-wide initiative was just implemented called P.B.I.S. It stands for Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports and is designed for adult and student behavior, and how to handle issues in the hallways, playground, cafeteria and restrooms.

The district said the goal is to keep kids in school and decrease the amount of phone calls home to parents..

"(It's about) having procedures in place in the school and making sure we are teaching the children the proper way to behave, having high expectations for respect, and self-control," Collins said. "It's about teaching children the way to behave and the way to function as part of a group."

The school is hoping it impacts the students' overall discipline. At Greenwood, the program is called S.O.A.R., but each school has their own name for it.

Koon said the first few weeks will go slow and asked that families be patient. He also noted that a problem across all Florence One schools has been tardiness, a problem he said could be remedied by even five minutes.

"You know, get them to school on time is what we would ask," Koon said.

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