Florence 1 Schools ratings reach new milestones as students continue to excel

Published: Oct. 25, 2022 at 10:25 PM EDT
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FLORENCE COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - School ratings have drastically improved this year in Florence 1 Schools. Students across the district are showing up more than ever when it comes to academics.

Florence 1 Schools Spokeswoman Melissa Rollins said nine schools received a rating of good or excellent on the most recent school report cards from the state.

Just four years ago, only one Florence 1 school was rated in each of those categories.

RELATED COVERAGE | Florence 1 Schools graduation rate among the best in S.C.

Schools receiving excellent ranks included:

  • Lucy T. Davis Elementary
  • Carver Elementary
  • Delmae Elementary
  • Royall Elementary
  • West Florence High School

Schools receiving good ranks included:

  • Briggs Elementary
  • Dewey L. Carter Elementary
  • John W. Moore Middle
  • Wilson High School

Julie LeMaster has two children who attend Florence 1 Schools.

She said she has watched her son, who is now a junior at West Florence High School, excel over the last few years.

“The growth here has been incredible to watch,” said LeMaster. “I’m a local. I’m from Florence, South Carolina, so to see where West Florence was and where it is now in just a short period of time has just been extraordinary.” In 2018, sixty percent of schools ranked unsatisfactory or below average.

West Florence High School made history after receiving its first excellent rating.

Principal Matt Dowdell said recent curriculum adjustments have made a difference.

The school has also implemented “castle time,” a 1-hour lunch session which allows students to get tutoring, attend clubs, or catch up on assignments throughout the day.

“Seeing that progress, it’s an aha moment for us to say what we did worked,” said Dowdell. “And not only did it work it worked well, and so for my teachers to be able to see that and my students to be able to see that I just cannot express into words what that means to us.”

As for LeMaster, she said the teachers at West Florence High School care and its one of the many reasons students like her son are performing better than before.

“I think that when the parents and students walk into this building they feel safe, they feel accepted, and they feel valued, and I think that all contributes to the desire to strive for excellence,” said LeMaster

Students said the “castle time” has helped improve grades tremendously.

Dowdell also added that students of the school need to be able to see the finish line of success, and it starts with talking to them as individuals.