‘Our students have a strong voice here’: Two Florence 1 Schools selected as finalists for Palmetto’s Finest Awards

Published: Jan. 20, 2023 at 7:12 AM EST
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FLORENCE COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - In the Pee Dee, two Florence 1 schools are in the spotlight.

Both are finalists for the 2023 Palmetto’s Finest Award, as it recognizes schools that offer innovative and effective educational programs.

WMBF News visited those schools to learn what sets them apart.

“We focus on activities that are challenging but also engaging,” said the principal of Carver Elementary School, Josie Little.

“We do look at the whole child and make sure that every student has an authentic experience while they’re here,” said the principal of John W. Moore Middle School, April Leroy.

For leaders of Florence 1 Schools, the goal is putting students to the test for ultimate success.

Ten schools across the state were in the running to be recognized for their student achievement, instructional programs, and professional learning community.

John W. Moore Middle School and Carver Elementary Magnet School were chosen as the two finalists because of their innovation and education programs.

“It doesn’t take much to impress them, so when I see that they are successful, and they know that they’re successful and they’re smiling and they’re happy and they’re learning in those you know the light bulb moment that really happens that’s when I feel most impressed and most happy about what is taking place,” said Little.

Both schools said a S.T.E.A.M. curriculum is what sets them apart from the other candidates, which is why they both have a chance to win the 2023 Palmetto’s Finest Award.

Within the vision of each school’s program, leaders at Carver Elementary said students engage in real-world experiences in the classroom, while students at Moore Middle School participate in project learning which includes band, pottery, drones, and video Game Design, just to name a few.

But some shared that what helps move the program forward is giving input to those who sit behind the desks.

“Our students have a strong voice here. they feel heard we give them an opportunity to participate and share their suggestions for more to make more an even better school,” said Leroy.

Meanwhile, the work can be overwhelming, but seeing students succeed makes it all worth it. “It is hard sometimes and we have the sweat and we have the tears but we try to stay focused. we know that the end game is that we need to do whatever it takes to make sure that our students are successful.”

The Award will be presented by the South Carolina Association of School Administrators. A winner among the two schools will be announced on March 16.