PROSPERITY — There’s the saying that if at first you don’t succeed, try again. Mid-Carolina Middle School did just that and was officially designated a 2017 National School to Watch.
“You are, young people, the hope of the future,” Newberry County School District Superintendent Jim Suber said Thursday to a room of students, faculty, staff and community members.
About three or four years ago, MCMS went through the application process to be a school to watch and unfortunately was not selected at that time.
“Some people would have been frustrated. The application process does take a while. Staff members know how involved that gets and it takes time to put that together and a lot of thought and work goes into even applying to become a school to watch,” Suber said. “As opposed to saying that you’re not good enough or that you don’t want to do this anymore, Mrs. Westwood and her staff rolled their sleeves up and went back to work.”
Suber said the end result of MCMS’s hard work was that they were engaged in a process where they were valued, their opinions are valued and that the teachers’ opinions are valued.
“Our administrators are extremely important. They organize and orchestrate everything that goes on in this school. Our administrators are only as strong as the faculty and staff members that are teaching in front of our students each and every day,” said Suber. “I firmly believe that the most important thing we can do as a school district is put an engaging teacher in front of these students each and every day. If you’ve got an engaged teacher and you’ve got an engaged classroom, learning will take place. You have that at Mid-Carolina Middle School.”
Before presenting MCMS its 2017 National School to Watch Award, Co-Director SCSTW Linda Allen, Co-Director Tina Jamison and STW Committee Larry Allen addressed the crowd.
“Sometimes when I would leave a school, I wouldn’t be so happy. But when we were here in October, I left very excited about the things that are going on here,” said Jamison.
MCMS is one of only 450 schools across the state that has been chosen to receive a School to Watch award. To win the award, schools had to meet a certain criteria, including being academically excellent, developmentally responsive and having social equity.
South Carolina was approved as a state School to Watch in 2006 and in the 11 years since, 74 applications have been submitted, with 66 schools being visited and only 22 being named a South Carolina School to Watch.
“Over 300 middle schools in South Carolina, and you were one of 22 that was selected,” said Jamison.
“Your teachers share expectations. They tell you what they want you to learn, they model and practice for you. That’s what School to Watch is about. It’s about you. The students make the difference. Without you, the rest of us wouldn’t be here,” said Allen. “I am proud to be able to congratulate you on being named a nationally recognized School to Watch.”
“When you are named a National School to Watch, that means that you are doing something so extraordinary that you were willing to open your doors to anybody in the state or even the nation to come in and see what you’re doing,” said Linda Allen.
MCMS Principal Deedee Westwood closed out the celebration, echoing the recurring theme of pride for her school.
“For our school to receive this recognition, knowing that we join a very select group of schools, not just across South Carolina, but across the United States, is really a big honor and it’s because of all of us coming together,” said Westwood. “This designation means that other people have seen a culture of learning, an atmosphere of determination and they see very core values of hard work, caring, passion and compassion that we put in every day.”
Reach Kelly Duncan at 803-768-3123 ext. 1868 or on Twitter @TheNBOnews.