TIMMONSVILLE, SC (WMBF) - Florence School District Four will soon see a new full-time superintendent.
That individual will take over for interim Superintendent Dr. Zona Jefferson, who began the job last March.
Jefferson began overseeing Brockington Elementary, Johnson Middle and Timmonsville High School after the state declared two of the three Timmonsville schools in a state of emergency. Her goal, she said, was to change the school district culture after a year of fear and concern.
"We are to the point of saying we know where we need to go and we are on the right road," Jefferson said.
Student learning is the No. 1 concern for Jefferson, as well as improving their educational opportunities.
"The jobs they will hold when they are my age have not been created yet, so they have to think and create for themselves what they'd like to do," she said. "The opportunities now are endless."
This year, Jefferson created a circle of students, teachers and parents who will serve as her eyes and ears as she works to help improve the district.
"We want parents to do more than just drop them off in the morning and just turn them over to us," she said. "So as they come up with things they would like to see done differently, better, or something we aren't doing at all, they have an opportunity to share that."
Stephen Heyward, a parent of a Timmonsville High student, said the district has endured both highs and lows, and is in the midst of a comeback.
The biggest change Heyward noticed is his son's grades.
"There was a period where his grades went down a little and now his grades are climbing back up, along with other students I come in contact with," he said. "It's a positive culture around here, I think the parents are starting to get more involved than last year."
For the first time, 24 high school students are taking dual college credit classes at Florence Darlington Technical College. Additionally, there are new student leadership, and gifted and talented student programs.
Now, after all the changes, the school board is awaiting the system-wide accreditation results following assessment by the state's advanced education teams over the last month.
Jefferson said she hopes the person who takes over her role will maintain an atmosphere of students being independent thinkers.
The school board is looking at the superintendent candidates next week. The hopefuls will eventually be narrowed down to three finalists, and hopes are a permanent district leader will begin the transition period by the end of the school year.