Five schools have been named the 2017 Palmetto’s Finest Schools.
- Monarch Elementary in Greenville, Greenville County Schools
- Round Top Elementary in Blythewood, Richland District Two
- Dutch Fork Middle in Irmo, Lexington-Richland District Five
- Seneca High in Seneca, Oconee County Schools
- Campobello Gramling School in Campobello, Spartanburg District One
About 1,000 excited teachers, school supporters and education leaders gathered in their respective schools on Tuesday, March 21, to learn which schools would take the top honors. The schools had progressed through an intensive application process requiring self-evaluation, peer review and two on-site examinations. The application and visits verified evidence of exceptional student achievement, instructional programs, professional learning communities, and school culture.
Monarch Elementary (Greenville, Principal Vaughan Overman) serves 878 students in Pre-K through 5th grade. Using a project-based learning approach aligned with a rigorous standards-based curriculum, a Health Science focus, and innovative technology, students excel as learners. Students benefit from an early exposure to a range of careers and challenges through a partnership with a local hospital system and other business partners. The philosophy behind the school’s tagline, Celebrating Inquiry, Innovation and Creativity, reflects the culture of the school campus. Monarch has been a recipient of Palmetto Gold Awards for high academic standing and is recognized as a TransformSC school for meeting the Gold Standards for project-based learning.
Round Top Elementary (Blythewood, Principal Jeaneen Tucker) serves 565 students in Pre-K through 5th grade and is a National School of Character. The first elementary school in the district to become an Arts in the Basic Curriculum site, Round Top provides many interactive and enriched learning experiences through a unique related arts integration program. As a Leader in Me school, students understand the value of lifelong learning and responsible citizenship and are empowered to practice leadership within the school, community, and beyond. A Palmetto Gold Award recipient for the past five years, Round Top Elementary educates the “whole child,” teaching critical thinking, problem solving, and decision-making skills through collaborative learning experiences.
Dutch Fork Middle (Irmo, Principal Gerald Gary) enrolls 1,034 7th and 8th grade students and consistently receives top state and federal ratings. Dutch Fork Middle has an overall “A” grade and top ranking by Niche.com for academics and student programs. Among its many initiatives, Dutch Fork Middle School’s Hate Won’t Win campaign, which encourages diversity and tolerance, continues to gain state and national attention for bringing schools and communities closer together. Dutch Fork Middle School’s distinction as one of only three middle schools in the state to hold Project Lead the Way Certification serves as a reminder that they are committed to providing courses, programs, and opportunities for their students.
Seneca High (Seneca, Principal T. Cliff Roberts) serves 970 students in 9th through 12th grade. Seneca High offers meaningful programs ranging from Graduation and Transition Services through a 21st Century grant program for their most at-risk population to offering 20 Advanced Placement courses to challenge their most ambitious students. The development of a Hybrid Program, Advisement Period, and implementation of BOBCATS Central help equip students with the skills needed to excel after graduation. These programs have caused a rise in standardized test scores and an increase in the graduation rate over the past five years. Seneca High has received the Palmetto Gold Award the past two years and was named a 2016 Top 20 Public High School in South Carolina by US News and World Report.
Campobello Gramling School (Campobello, Principal John Hodge) serves 730 students in Pre-K through 8th grade. As a South Carolina Exemplary Reading School, Schools to Watch School, and Palmetto Gold Recipient, Campobello Gramling School provides many different services to students to foster growth and development of the whole child. Programs such as Wildcat Club, Backpacks for Hope, STEAM Lab, Cards for Veterans, Terrific Kids, Reading Recovery, and award-winning sports and fine arts programs prepare students to become academically successful as well as community-minded citizens. Campobello Gramling School understands that collaboration among stakeholders, dedication to students, and incorporation of technology will prepare its students to be 21st century learners.
“The Palmetto’s Finest award winners are models of innovation throughout our state,” said SCASA’s Beth Phibbs. “They set the standard of excellence by creating an outstanding school culture which includes setting high expectations and providing opportunities for personalized learning.”
Presenting the awards to the five winners were Nancy Gregory (Chairman of the Palmetto’s Finest Committee), Dr. George Ward (President, SC Association of School Administrators), The Honorable Molly Spearman (SC Superintendent of Education) and Judi Gatson (Emcee and Anchor of WIS-TV).
SCASA is the professional organization for school leaders in South Carolina, with a membership of more than 4,100. From professional development opportunities and research, to publications and legislative advocacy, SCASA’s focus is to support school leaders in providing the best possible education for South Carolina’s young people. As a state affiliate of three national associations for school leaders, SCASA also works on the national level.