The South Carolina Organization of Rural Schools (SCORS) was founded four years ago. SCORS was founded by Dr.Vashti Washington, Carol Hillman, and Dr. Arnold Hillman. All work performed by SCORS is handled by volunteers. All expenses are paid for by these volunteers. The SCORS website www.scorsweb.org is a joint effort by SCORS and R&R productions of Harrisburg, PA. The cost of the Go Daddy site is once again paid for by volunteers.
At the outset of the organization, its founding members contacted all of the extant educational organizations to see whether such an entity was necessary. It succeeded a rural school organization that disbanded in 2006. Since there are well over 30 such organizations in the United States, the conclusion was that it should be created.
Since many of the rural school districts in South Carolina are resource poor, it was a decided that a membership organization with dues would not be appropriate. The next step was to look at other ways of organizing.
After a number of face to face meetings in Columbia with interested school superintendents and other education related folks, a decision was made that these meetings, which were not well attended may have been inconvenient in the face of so many other meetings.
It was at that point that several of the SCORS family suggested that a steering committee could be formed and that meetings could be held by conference call (and possibly later by electronic means). We were fortunate that Marc Drews, of EdVenture, could provide us with the phone conference means to have our meetings.
Our Steering Committee is composed of a number of rural Superintendents, legislative aides, consultants, political operatives, attorneys and higher education folks. The committee is composed of seventeen members.
To understand our goals and our mission, please go to those sections of this website. Thank for your interest.
Steering Committee Meeting Minutes- Dr. Gilmore’s Presentation
SCORS Steering Committee meeting
March 11, 2021 2 p.m.
President Don Doggett opened the meeting by reminding everyone that SCORS is always looking for solutions to problems. He had everyone introduce themselves and then quickly introduced our guest speaker, Dr. Margeret Gilmore, Superintendent of the Allendale County School District here in South Carolina.
By the measure of household income Allendale is the most impoverished school district in SC. However, Dr. Gilmore, who is in her third year as superintendent, spent 90 minutes redefining the District and community as rich with potential.
Dr. Gilmore has a set of beliefs that undergird her actions:
• using music and song to build school spirit and infuse the District and community with a positive attitude.
• refusing to define Allendale as a district in the Corridor of Shame, but rather a district that focuses on the possible to create positive opportunities for students- a Corridor of Opportunities.
• reinforcing positive growth by rewarding small improvements until they become big successes.
• praising people in public and reprimanding in private.
• using transformational leadership by establishing a myriad of school and community teams where people study problems and do research with an eye towards creating solutions.
• leaders are readers- teams go beyond the borders of the District by reading about different ways to uncover best practices.
• setting clearly defined goals for district staff and students and enforcing rules that support those goals.
• education of students is the responsibility of the whole community so Dr. Gilmore encourages school-business partnerships.
• advocating for a bold mission to address an urgent need.
• using the profile of the SC graduate to structure curricula.
• identifying problems and facing hard facts.
• ensuring students are active learners and teaching is interactive.
• changing a negative culture to a positive one where people can trust and support each other.
The following are outcomes and actions the District has taken as a result of the work students, staff and community members have done:
• asking for and receiving support from State Superintendent of Schools, Molly Spearman, at the SC Department of Education.
• at 87.3% their graduation rate is the highest it has been in ten years.
• changing the headlines… Allendale Forward.
• establishing a school band, cheerleading team, increased and well supported sports programs, ROTC, STEM programs, student internships, an aviation program, a BETA club, using alumni to promote a positive message, professional development for staff, all of which build school and community pride.
• applying for and receiving grant monies.
• encouraging the contribution of funds by a generous and anonymous donor.
• creating opportunities for students to take on leadership roles and provide suggestions for positive change.
• instituting a three-hour Saturday school for students who need remedial help and a 1 to 7 p.m. “evening” school for students who are in danger of not graduating.
• not letting COVID 19 stop the District from holding an opening day parade; this was a drive-by parade using cars.
• helping increase the positive image of the District by hanging lamp post banners around the whole community.
• building a new track for Track and Field and adding a new wing to an elementary school.
• establishing pre-school programs for children as young as six weeks to three years and another pre-kindergarten program.
• adding duel enrollment opportunities as well as AP classes.
• focusing on recruiting and retaining highly qualified teachers and even providing housing - in the form of dorm rooms for teachers at the USC Salkehatchie campus.
• priding themselves on losing only five or six teachers this year, much less than in previous years.
Dr. Gilmore’s presentation was very much appreciated and applauded by everyone who attended today’s SCORS meeting.
There was much discussion and a number of questions Dr. Gilmore was kind enough to answer. Don Doggett promised to be in touch with Dr. Gilmore to discuss ways in which Allendale County SD might partner with SC’s Head Start program. Marc Drews, Vice President of Mission and Strategic Partnerships at the Ed Venture museum in Columbia, also offered to partner with Allendale County School District.
Dr. David O’Shields, Superintendent of Laurens County School District 56 shared a number of successes in his district along with their plans to build teacher housing in order to attract highly qualified teachers.
Marguerite Willis, an attorney in Columbia, suggested rural districts solve the problem of teacher housing by taking over local uninhabited houses and offering them free of charge to prospective teachers.
SCORS was appreciative of the attendance and participation of Kimberly Mack from the SC Office of School Transformation for the SC Department of Education.
In conclusion, as SCORS secretary, I am awarding myself an editorial comment:
“Dr. Gilmore is truly a gift to the Allendale County School District and community. She joins a cadre of strong leaders in SC’s rural schools.”
Minutes submitted by Carol Hillman, SCORS secretary