Rallying the troops: Sumter School District teachers get together for back-to-school pep rally

BY BRUCE MILLS
bruce@theitem.com
Posted 8/16/18

"Whatever it takes."

That's the theme for the new school year in Sumter School District, and it was expressed loud (really loud) and clear Wednesday at the district's annual opening meeting for teachers and staff at Sumter County Civic …

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Rallying the troops: Sumter School District teachers get together for back-to-school pep rally

Posted

"Whatever it takes."

That's the theme for the new school year in Sumter School District, and it was expressed loud (really loud) and clear Wednesday at the district's annual opening meeting for teachers and staff at Sumter County Civic Center.

The two-hour back-to-school meeting, a pep rally if you will, for the districts' teachers, administrators, bus drivers, custodians, cafeteria workers and other staff included singing and dancing from the Lemira Elementary School Percussion Ensemble, shout-outs from all 26 schools that filled the civic center, remarks from Interim Superintendent Debbie Hamm and a 50-minute keynote motivational message from two former University of South Carolina Gamecock football players-turned-major-children-literacy-advocates, known as #JustaChicken.

After Sumter School Board Chairman the Rev. Daryl McGhaney provided a brief welcome, Hamm gave her message, which included a summary of improved district test scores from last year and doing "whatever it takes" to continue that success this year and make it a great year for students and all staff.

Hamm highlighted new academic programs in the district this year, including Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID), Leader in Me, a math and science initiative known as NMSI and Core Knowledge, among others.

After the Lemira Elementary School Percussion Ensemble entertained the reported 1,763 in attendance from the schools and district office, the duo of former Gamecock standouts, Preston Thorne and Langston Moore, gave the keynote address.

Thorne and Moore are popular across the state for their 2015 book #JustaChicken, and they now travel the state to talk to elementary school students about the importance of literacy.

Thorne, who spent 11 years as a high school social studies teacher after graduating from USC, said three core values to success on the field as a team or in the classroom with students include trust, care and commitment.

"Commitment. That's the grind," Thorne said. "Every day is a new day, and you must bring the same level of energy on Day 1, Day 15, Day 30 and every day to ensure students' success."

District Teacher of the Year

At the end of Wednesday's program, as is the norm, the administration announced the district's teacher of the year for the upcoming school year - Shasta Smith, a fifth-grade math and science teacher at High Hills Elementary School. This year will be Smith's fifth year at the school and seventh year in the classroom overall.