WINNSBORO — It was announced Wednesday that Fairfield Magnet School for Math and Science is one of five schools in South Carolina to win the Palmetto’s Finest Award.
The school’s gym was packed with students, teachers, Fairfield County School District administrators, elected officials and parents for the announcement, which came via a video web cast.
Fairfield County School District Superintendent J.R. Green said it was an honor to even been in the running as a finalist for the Palmetto’s Finest award. He noted that the accomplishment was a direct result of teamwork.
“This has come about through hard work and dedication of these wonderful students,” Green stated. “Through the hard work and dedication of the parents and we cannot forget the wonderful teachers. We’d also like to recognize the administrators and staff.”
After the announcement, Green said it was an exciting time in Fairfield County.
“This is a wonderful accomplishment for Fairfield Magnet School,” he acknowledged. “But I want people to recognize that this is indicative of the multiple things we have going on here in Fairfield County. I am here to tell the community that this is a new day in Fairfield County.”
Fairfield Magnet School principal Gale Whitfield was honored to receive the state’s top honor.
“I just want to give thanks to all of our student, parents and teachers,” she noted. “It was a lot of hard work, but God never puts something in front of you that you can’t handle.”
Whitfield acknowledged the hard work the school’s staff has put in to make becoming a Palmetto’s Finest a reality.
“I get up every morning because I love what I do,” she said. “These teachers are some of the best teachers in this state. My teachers come in every day happy in the morning and then leave tired. My students are the best students that any principal could ask for.
“I know that without the support I have in the district or my fellow colleagues, this would not have been possible,” she added. “There is brilliance inside of every child and it is our job to find that brilliance and make sure it shines through. I am the proud principal of Fairfield Magnet School for Math and Science.”
About 1,000 excited teachers, school supporters and education leaders gathered in their respective schools to learn which schools would take the top honors. The schools had progressed through an intensive application process requiring self-evaluation, peer review and on-site examinations. Student achievement is the foundation for award criteria.
Green reminded the assembly that the motto of Fairfield County schools is excellence through teamwork.
“We understand that we can accomplish absolutely anything if we work together,” he said. “I’d like to thank all of the school board members for providing the kind of leadership that makes these things possible.”
Green continued to point out and thank local elected officials and community leaders. After two years on the job, he said there is no where he’d rather be .
“If I could be anywhere, I would still be here as the superintendent of Fairfield County schools,” Green emphasized.“I want to recognize the community for standing behind the Magnet School and more importantly standing behind Fairfield County schools. We cannot achieve all that we have the ability to achieve unless the community stands with us. We appreciate you and we need you to continue to support us.”
Palmetto’s Finest committee member Sharon Budden was on hand to present the finalist award prior to the recognition of the winner.
Budden works at Winthrop University and closely with Fairfield Central High School and told the assembly that she has a special connection to Fairfield County.
“I’m very excited to be here today too because I feel like I am part of this county,” she said. “I’m so glad to see so much excitement and I am proud that the elementary schools are leading the way in Fairfield County.”
The official presentation was broadcast on the web through ETV and projected onto a jumbo screen for all of the assembly to watch in the Fairfield Magnet School gym.
Presenting the awards to the five winners were Dr. David Mathis, chairman of the Palmetto’s Finest Committee; Barry Bolen, chairman of S.C. State Board of Education; Darleen Sutton, S.C. State Teacher of the Year; and Dr. Rose Wilder, SCASA President, who made the announcement that the Magnet School had won the award.
After all the anticipation, the gym erupted in jubilation and celebration. Teachers, students and the community embraced in hugs and began to do their “happy” dance.
Serving 359 students in grades Pre-K-6, FMSMS ensures that their students are prepared for life.
Administrators, teachers, and staff work diligently to ensure that their curriculum and instructional practices meet the needs of all students. Teachers integrate science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math into all curriculum areas. Students have the opportunity to participate in dance, band, orchestra, Spanish, Beta Club, STEAM day (clubs), chorus, and the Morning News Show. FMSMS has been a Palmetto Gold school for two consecutive years.
The South Carolina Association of School Administrators is a professional organization for school leaders in South Carolina, with a membership of more than 3,700.
“The Palmetto’s Finest award winners represent the many innovative schools in our state,” said SCASA’s Molly Spearman wrote in a press release. “They are community centers of learning where students are given personalized instruction and high expectations.”
Fairfield Magnet School was one of five schools to receive the honor. The other schools included:
• Midland Elementary in Galivants Ferry, Horry County Schools
• Okatie Elementary in Okatie, Beaufort County Schools
• Forestbrook Middle in Myrtle Beach, Horry County Schools
• Camden High in Camden, Kershaw County Schools