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Okatie Elementary Makes History

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OKATIE, S.C. -

One lowcountry school has made history, becoming the first school in the state to win all three top awards for education in one year.

It was announced yesterday that Okatie Elementary won the "Palmetto's Finest" award, making it the only school ever to win the "big three" awards in one academic year. Those include: South Carolina Palmetto's Finest School, U.S. National Blue Ribbon School and the Riley Award for Student Improvement Council Excellence.

"I am learning a lot!" Tyler Ahern exclaimed.

Principal Jamie Pinckney says they've worked hard over the passed decade to get to this point.

"Weeding out what's not working, what's working with our kids, what's making a difference. We know students reading everyday is really important to student success. Teachers building relationships with students is key for student success, knowing they care, that somebody here is really looking out for them, parent involvement and community support is vital."

Vital in boosting performance, is also a hands-on approach to teaching, something even students like Tyler Ahern recognize.

"This school is very open-handed. Teachers take you under their wing, its like they are the mother goose and you are all the baby hens."

Teachers are required to conduct interactive lessons in all subjects as part of boosting relationships and fostering a level of excellence in learning.

"I really think it goes from he top down, Miss Pinckney holds us to a very high standard, and she wants us to perform to the best of our ability, and that trickles down to the students. Everyday we expect those kids to come in and work as hard as they can, we don't slack around here," said Bree Lauffer, fifth-grade teacher.

And that drive is certainly paying off for Ahern.

"To be honest with you in third grade I was in one of the lowest math classes, in fourth grade I rose higher, and now I'm in the top math class in the school."

Principal Pinckney says now, educators from other schools will be coming in to observe Okatie, and see first-hand how they do things, pressure she says she's proud to endure.

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