Last updated: January 10. 2014 3:42PM - 717 Views
Kevin Boozer Staff Writer

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Kevin Boozer

Staff Writer

WINNSBORO — Fairfield County Magnet School for Math and Science has attracted more recognition this week from the S.C. Association of School Administrators.

FMSMS learned Wednesday it is one of nine finalists entering the second round of on site evaluation in the Palmetto’s Finest competition.

The Fairfield County school advanced based on evaluations from educators and former winners of Palmetto’s Finest. FMSMS was the only midlands school to advance as finalist in Palmetto’s Finest.

“This is a great honor to be recognized among some of the finest schools in South Carolina,” FMSMS Principal Gail Whitfield said. “It’s a tribute to what we do for our children and how hard my teachers and faculty work to make sure each child gets everything they need to be a success (at our school).”

A three-member assessment team will do another on-site evaluation of the magnet school as it competes in a special magnet school category with Berkley County’s Howe Hall Arts Infused Magnet School.

“To get this award and make it to the finals is fantastic. We are a dynamic school and I feel like we will do great things when the panel visits,” Whitfield said. “We will continue to do what we normally do for children at FMSMS.”

FMSMS was one of 17 schools to submit a 20-page application for the finest schools awards. The application included components assessing student achievement, instructional programs, professional learning communities, and school culture.

Whitfield applied at the encouragement of Fairfield County Superintendent of Schools J.R. Green, who was principal of a Palmetto’s Finest Finalist school two consecutive years before leaving his principal position to become an assistant superintendent.

Green said in a few years at the helm, he and his faculty and staff turned that school around from an unsatisfactory school to a good school and then advanced it to a finalist for Palmetto’s Finest.

Years later,when he started in Fairfield County as superintendent, he encouraged area principals to participate in competitions like Palmetto’s Finest.

Green said such competition allows schools to match up best practices with other schools from other districts, a benchmark of achievement he believes is an accurate barometer of how a school, faculty and community are collaborating to educate children.

Green believes FMSMS has an excellent chance of winning the Palmetto’s Finest but also believes in the benefits from the competition.

“It’s a good process to do even if you don’t win,” Green said. “(From my years as principal) our faculty and staff learned a lot from faculty and staff throughout the state,” he said.

The other finalists are:

Midland Elementary School, Horry County

Okatie Elementary School, Beaufort County

Boiling Springs Middle School, Spartanburg District 2

Forestbrook Middle School, Horry County

Landrum Middle School, Spartanburg District 1

Camden High School, Kershaw County

Clover High School, York District 2

The SC Association of School Administrators presents the awards each year to schools that offer the best in innovative, effective educational programs. The Palmetto’s Finest Award is celebrating its 36th year and is one of the most coveted and respected awards among educators.

“We are pleased to offer this recognition for outstanding and innovative schools. They represent the many excellent school communities serving South Carolina’s families,” said Molly Spearman, SCASA executive director.

Whitfield said the finalist schools will gather at the Koger Center in their schools on Wednesday, March 26 to learn which schools won the top honors.

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