NEW ZION - A small rural elementary school in Clarendon County has received top honors in the state.
On Tuesday, Walker Gamble Elementary School was named one of only three 2020 Palmetto's Finest Schools. The South Carolina Association of School …
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On Tuesday, Walker Gamble Elementary School was named one of only three 2020 Palmetto's Finest Schools. The South Carolina Association of School Administrators recognized WGES for its innovative ways of adapting to its diverse population.
"We at Walker Gamble Elementary and Clarendon District Three are humbled and honored to be recognized as a Palmetto's Finest School," said WGES Principal Allen Kirby. "We are driven by the collaborative efforts of our amazing faculty and staff, support from our parents and community and the hard work of our wonderful students that we serve every day."
Kirby said that the recognition "is a testament to the culture of commitment that we have established, which we are confident provides students with the tools needed for future success."
Being a part of the selection process that included seven school finalists was "exceptional," Kirby added.
"I grew up a product of Walker Gamble Elementary and Clarendon School District Three," he said. "And this is the highlight of my professional career, to see WGE thrive and flourish in our community."
When Dr. Connie Dennis, superintendent of Clarendon School District 3, was asked about the honor, she said, "On behalf of Clarendon School District Three, we continue to celebrate the recognition Walker Gamble Elementary received this week as a Palmetto Finalist recipient. This was a team effort with an ongoing focus of serving all children, our future leaders, each day with sound instructional practices and assistance. You are appreciated!"
WGE Assistant Principal Nancy Moore said that when a member of the organization's selection team asked her why Walker Gamble Elementary should be a Palmetto's Finest School, the answer was easy.
"It's the people that make Walker Gamble so special," she said. "Our teachers constantly push themselves to find strategies to meet the diverse needs of our students and are always willing to try new things. They not only challenge students academically, but our teachers also ensure they equip our students with the 21st-century skills needed for success."
Moore said that the students at WGE are "motivated to succeed, make a difference and lead the way into the future."
Moore also applauded the school's parents and community for their pride in WGE and for their continuous support and engagement.
"These are things that can't be found in all schools, nor can it be funded with state or federal funds," she added. "It's the people that make a difference, set us apart and make Walker Gamble Elementary a Palmetto's Finest School."
The school's fourth-grade team, Connie Brogdon, Deane Burrows, Amanda Williamson and Michele Williamson, echoed the words of Kirby and Moore.
"This award is a true reflection of the collective efforts of our community, parents, students, faculty and staff," they added. "WGE is more than a school. We are a family who work together for the benefit of each student."
Kirby and his staff of innovative teachers were honored for implementation of collective leadership within Clarendon School District 3, "which developed unity and growth by allowing all members of the school's learning community to have an opportunity to lead." The state organization said that despite the school's small population of only 549 students in grades pre-K through fifth, the small rural school used "the unique talents and abilities of its staff, students and community to offer many varied programs and clubs such as art club, kindness club, backpack buddies club and Mini Cheer."
The other two state schools to receive the 2020 Palmetto's Finest Schools award were Woodland Elementary School in Greer that serves 1,100 students and Dutch Fork High School in Irmo that has 1,679 students in grades 9 through 12.
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