Congratulations, Class of 2017!

This week, the Board of School Commissioners and I had the opportunity to congratulate and send off the Richland One graduating Class of 2017! The commencement exercises were great, and we all stood very tall shaking graduates’ hands as they came across the stage. The “Pomp and Circumstance” is well-deserved. It is always heartwarming to see students and families proud of their moment of accomplishment and recognition.

Not only have our graduates persevered, we also know that many other individuals share in meeting this goal. Hat’s off to our teachers (pre-K through 12th grade), administrators and support staff, as well as our parents, guardians, family members and community supporters. Student speakers at the graduation ceremonies also mentioned the support of fellow students and siblings who played a role in their success as well. In essence, we all made a difference and have a role to play in the successes of our students – setting the stage for the next phase of our students’ lives.

We are proud of our graduates for reaching this milestone. Moreover, we are proud to have played a positive role in your journey. Congrats and much success to the Class of 2017!

Making Connections

This week was very exciting and the events continue to build upon our focus on ensuring our students and graduates are prepared to be college- and career-ready, meeting and exceeding the Profile of the South Carolina Graduate.

To that end, executives from Boeing South Carolina were in the district for two days this week, meeting with district officials and, more importantly, students in our high schools. As a district, we look forward to building a strong partnership that includes our work with Midlands Tech and other area colleges and universities. As we lay out this pathway, students can definitely see the connections leading to careers that will pay for their higher education options.

Joan Robinson-Berry, Boeing SC’s vice president and general manager, was very complimentary of the students demonstrating their skills in robotics and other STEM areas. She further stated, “That’s what we are looking for,” as Boeing looks to build its workforce in years to come. In addition, one of our upcoming graduates provided the Boeing contingent with a resume’ as well!

We are indeed strengthening our partnerships and making the connections for students in the process. Great things are and will continue to happen along this journey.

Young Leaders and Scholars

This week, I had the opportunity to take part in the National Elementary Honor Society induction program at Satchel Ford Elementary School. It was great seeing fourth- and fifth-grade students lead the program and pass the leadership touch from the current officers to the officers for the upcoming year.

During the ceremony, information was shared about the many service projects that the students had undertaken, from canned good drives to community service. I shared with the students that our brain learns by connecting information that we know to what we learn. Similarly, we should connect service and helping others to achievement, leadership, responsibility and the other tenets of the Honor Society and how we live our lives.

Congratulations again to the Satchel Ford Honor Society and keep up the good work!

We’ve Got It!




Last week, I had an opportunity to update our students, parents, employees, community members and other stakeholders on all the great things happening in Richland One during my annual State of the District Address. Thank you to everyone who turned out the evening of February 9 at W.A. Perry Middle School to join us in celebrating our successes.

During my remarks, I highlighted some of our many Points of Pride, including an increase in our graduation rate (up 13.9% since 2010) and a decrease in our dropout rate (50% decrease between 2009 and 2013), along with more than $61 million in scholarships  and other financial aid earned by the Class of 2016.

The State of the District Address also provided me with a chance to talk about the many choices we offer our students in Richland One. If you want STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics), we’ve got it. If you want rigor in terms of International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement programs, we’ve got it. If you want college credit while still in high school, we’ve got it. If you want Montessori education, we’ve got it. If you want Chinese, French, Spanish, German or Latin, we’ve got it.

This week (February 15), we joined with officials from Cummins, Inc. in kicking off a partnership to establish the company’s first-ever Youth Technician Apprenticeship Program (the pictures above are from the ribbon-cutting ceremony). Through the program, students at Heyward Career and Technology Center will receive classroom instruction and hands-on training for high-paying jobs in the diesel industry. The partnership with Cummins (a global manufacturer, distributor and service provider of diesel and natural gas engines) will provide yet another choice and even more competitive advantages for our students.

In Richland One, we’ve got it!

(Note: The State of the District Address is airing on Richland One TV (Time Warner Cable channel 12) and it can be viewed via ROTV On Demand at

Learning Comes In Many Ways

This week, I had an opportunity to go to Carver-Lyon Elementary School to observe the school’s Chinese New Year festival! Students joined with Chinese performers who sang, danced and drummed. The students were able help interpret songs as well provide other feedback during the performances. Following those selections, students participated in their own Chinese New Year parade in the halls of the school, with costumes and all.

Carver-Lyon is home of the Richland One Language Immersion Program. The pre-K and kindergarten students in the program are taught in English and in Mandarin Chinese or Spanish. This is the first year of the program, which will expand next year to include first grade.

We appreciate the work that is being done in the Language Immersion Program and the wonderful educational experiences our students are having in learning other languages and learning about other cultures. Whether it is New Year’s Day or a regular school day, learning comes in many ways.

Empowering the Village

This week, we held two Parent Empowerment for Student Success meetings. We shared district data and we talked about the various instructional strategies, tools and resources that teachers and schools use to facilitate learning at all grade levels: pre-K and early childhood, elementary, middle and high. Parents had an opportunity to see how all of the skills and expectations are stacked up and build upon each other. (We call this vertical articulation in education-speak).

The presentation also gave parents an opportunity to see how important that what happens at the very earliest of ages and grades can impact a child’s academic path through high school. We also shared information about the support systems at all levels that we use to help students succeed and achieve mastery of standards. Just as we do with students, it is important to make the connections to see how all of this fits together.

And speaking of fitting together, our staff shared valuable information about how parents, caregivers and others can support student learning and engagement from the early years through high school and beyond. This can include reading to and with a child or having their child create a science question while grocery shopping. We also provided parents with a guide with strategies to use to support and continue what we do in the classroom.

We take student achievement and our goal of improving outcomes for all of our students very seriously and will continue to reach out for all stakeholders to support us in this regard. So, don’t worry if you were not able to attend the sessions this week. The parent guides will be made available online, at schools, child care facilities and other educational partners.

We are all a part of the educational village!

Listening and Learning

This week, I had the opportunity to talk with the newest members of the Richland One family – our new teachers and staff that joined us this year. The event started with ice-breaking activities that also were designed for interaction with others from across the district, all 500 square miles!

The festivities continued and it was heartening to see and interact with everyone. All were able to reflect for a moment, as well as share joys and challenges of the profession. Bright spots included their interactions with students, from a student who was surprised that a new teacher would know the student’s name on the first day of school to a student being able to greet the teacher in English, from being in the ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) program.

I had an opportunity to address teachers and listen to their feedback, as a whole, about the profession and their early experiences. Teaching is difficult but also rewarding when you realize the positive impact one can have on the lives of students, while preparing for the assessments and tests that often overshadow how much teachers and staff give on a day-to-day basis.

That said, as a learning organization, we welcome the feedback and use it to make our district more prepared to support the work we are charged to do.

Thanks again to our new teachers and staff for what you do and for being a part of Richland One!

In early-fall, all of our Montessori schools – Brockman, Caughman Road, Gadsden and Logan elementary schools and W.G. Sanders Middle School – participated in the International Day of Peace. They were joined by students from our language immersion program at Carver-Lyon Elementary.

Students led the International Day of Peace program with instrumental and vocal music, recitations, skits and attire representative of the many countries represented by students and staff in Richland One.

At the conclusion of the program, the focus was placed on the peace pole which was inscribed with the words “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in multiple languages. Replicas of the peace pole were to be placed at each of the schools.

Today, the peace pole was installed at the Stevenson Administration Building. This was a pleasant sight as staff paused to view and reflect.

In any languages, may peace prevail.

Welcome to 2017!

I would like to take this time to welcome everyone back to school after the winter break. I hope it was an enjoyable time with family and friends.

That said, it is good to have our students and staff back in schools and classrooms! As we approach the midpoint of this academic year, some of our high-schoolers are gearing up for exams and others are gearing up for the remainder of the academic year. Again, we are glad to be to be “back at it!”

As always, we appreciate our parents’ involvement. Working together will improve our students’ outcomes and lead to brighter futures.

Thank you all and best wishes for 2017!

Happy Holidays!

We have reached the halfway mark of the 2016-2017 school year, and it has been quite a busy and quite a successful first semester for Richland One schools, students and staff.

Please go to to read our new Spotlight ONE publication. In this publication, we provide updates on academic progress in the district, as well as our new language immersion program, the upgrades being made to our athletics facilities and other Points of Pride. Parents will receive a copy of Spotlight ONE in the mail.

We have a lot to be proud of in Richland One and we appreciate the support and engagement of our parents and community members as we work together to transform the lives of our students through education.

Richland One schools and offices will be closed December 19-30, 2016 for the Winter Break. Classes will resume on January 2, 2017.

We look forward to what 2017 holds for Richland One. The best is yet to come.

Happy holidays!