MS Bailey: A Great Place to Raise a Kid
This month I will start a series of articles about each of our six schools in the district. One of the very best things about Laurens County School District 56 is its size, its attention to students and staff, and its ability to compete successfully academically, artistically, and athletically against much larger, more affluent districts.
MS Bailey Child Development Center is the foundation upon which students receive their first impression of the core beliefs making our district a "great place to raise a kid." These beliefs include:
Education is the shared responsibility of the home, the school, and the community;
All children can excel;
Poverty is never an excuse;
Positive school culture is vital to learning;
Positive adult relationships are essential to student growth; and
Communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity are essential skills.
Nowhere are these qualities more evident than MS Bailey. The district has recommitted to provide a literacy rich, intellectually stimulating, and emotionally secure environment to any and all students. In fact, the board and I see MS Bailey as the focal point or ground zero in our continuing battle against apathy, poverty, and ignorance. If more students of any ability level enroll than expected, the board has authorized money to be spent to provide additional classes.
Nowhere is the learning environment more child-centered, the students more actively and meaningfully engaged, and teachers and aides more actively involved in the learning than at MS Bailey. Monthly family nights and other activities support the belief that education is the shared responsibility of the home, the school, and the community.
Nowhere is the love for children more evident than at MS Bailey. All students regardless of English proficiency or developmental level are loved and taught to be the best they can be. Much like the old television show "Cheers," MS Bailey is a place where everyone knows your name. Individuality and creative expression are evident in the halls, on the walls, and throughout the building. Again, these actions reinforce the beliefs that all children can excel and poverty is never an excuse.
Nowhere is the warm and nurturing environment more on display than at MS Bailey. Educational field trips, visits to City Hall, and presentations by city and community leaders showcase the early learning opportunities in citizenship and scientific inquiry. Daily, MS Bailey teachers and staff serve to focus district beliefs that positive school culture is vital to learning and positive adult relationships are essential to student growth.
It is often said one must "begin with the end in mind." Nowhere is this more evident than MS Bailey's willingness to embrace the central tenets of the Profile of the South Carolina graduate, none more important than the ongoing efforts at all schools to challenge students to communicate effectively and clearly, to collaborate intentionally and respectfully, and to think critically and creatively.
Although MS Bailey was built in 1958 (a very good year if I must say so myself...HINT: I was born in 1958.) and has a worn look on the exterior, I challenge you to come inside and find any place, anywhere doing a better job. And that's not just my opinion. The South Carolina Department of Education and other accrediting agencies across the state have told us, "MS Bailey is one of the most impressive learning communities in any district across the state. Easily in the Top Ten, likely the Top Five." These comments are not from the uninformed but those most in the know.
Too often, the Great Teacher's words are all too true..."a prophet is not without honor except in his own town..." MS Bailey is more than an education; it is an experience, a life changing experience. I encourage you to come and see what MS Bailey is doing for all students. Parents who may drive by the school and have doubts, I simply say, "Make an appointment and go inside." You'll see it, you'll feel it, and it will remove any and all doubt. I guarantee it.
The plaque inside the school has a quote from MS Bailey for whom the school is named. MS Bailey was the founder of MS Bailey and Sons, Bankers and the Clinton and Lydia Cotton Mills. The quote, now nearly one hundred years old, still reverberates the ageless values our district still strives to uphold and tout. " A good formal education, tempered by practical experience and sound judgments, is a priceless and enduring possession. Seek it diligently. It will enrich your life and serve you well.
Nowhere is this more evident than at MS Bailey. It is "A Great Place to Raise A Kid."
May it be so!
(Dr. David O’Shields is superintendent of Laurens County School District 56.)