Column: AdvancED: A Matter of Teamwork and Pride

This will be my last article on our AdvancED Accreditation Visit. It seems AdvancED has been the focus of many of my articles for quite some time but, then again, it is an incredibly important validation of the district, the schools, and the quality of the educational product we endorse and provide. During the External Review Team’s (ERT) final summative conference, they applauded numerous “powerful practices” of the district. Last week, I gave a recap of those practices. This week, Mr. Barton, Chairman of the Laurens District 56 School Board, provides a clear, concise, and practical recap of the AdvancED accreditation process from his perspective. He wrote this email to me the morning after the External Review Team left. “Since listening to the final overview from the AdvancEd External Review Team…I have thought about some perspective concerning those very good results. It was a good day for everyone throughout District 56. We knew it, and felt it, and believed it. But isn’t it great to be validated by objective professionals? Here is why we did well: • Great Infrastructure to support our mission • Demonstrated Consistency between the goals of the District and the communities’ expectations But, we know the real driving forces and here they are, simply: • Teamwork • Pride Those two things combine to make all the thousands of other cogs in the machine happen. This accreditation process says this in bold letters: We have a great system in place, and we are absolutely poised and ready to continue moving toward even greater success.” I think Mr. Barton perfectly summarized the pistons driving our educational performance—teamwork and pride. I couldn’t agree more. Clinton is a community still in search of its new identity; however, the pride of the once thriving mill town is still evident. Teamwork is ever present as well with the key players—the City of Clinton, Presbyterian College, Thornwell Home for Children, local churches, and District 56—continuing to support educational initiatives for the collective good. District 56 recognizes it cannot achieve excellence in isolation. We continue to promote relationships with higher education, early childhood education, and local community agencies with a goal of educating children to solve problems, work cooperatively, and focus on making our community economically and culturally strong again. I also concur with Mr. Barton’s assessment of the consistency between the district’s goals and the communities’ expectations. The External Review Team marveled at the support from diverse and willing stakeholders, whether parent, community, or industry. The External Review Team also marveled at the sustained and continued pursuit of excellence by students and educators alike, whether in athletic or academic arenas. Science Olympiad, Beta Club, Youth in Government, Academic Teams, FFA, and other groups consistently outperform far larger schools with far more resources. Why? How? Because our students believe they can! They have pride in their schools and want to represent the community, the district, and themselves the very best they can. The same can be said of our administrators and teachers. They wanted the External Review Team to see us as a community overcoming obstacles and defying odds. The same can be said for the students from elementary through high school. They didn’t put on a show, they merely acted with the manners, the respect, and the deportment our community upholds as well-informed, responsible citizens. Pride and teamwork! Absolutely so! I am proud to be the superintendent of Laurens County School District 56. I am honored and humbled to work with conscientious, competent, and compassionate educators, parents, and community leaders. As Mr. Barton concluded in his comments to me so I repeat in my closing: “This accreditation process says this in bold letters: We have a great system in place, and we are absolutely poised and ready to continue moving toward even greater success.” May it be so! (Dr. David O’Shields is superintendent of Laurens School District 56.)

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513 North Broad St.
Clinton, SC 29325
Phone: (864) 833-1900
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