The Jasper County School District has been rated “at-risk” by the South Carolina Department of Education for years.
With 86 percent of students living at or below the poverty line, the district’s new superintendent says these children are now her own, so she’s making big changes.
“The theme for us for the upcoming school year is ‘student-centered, future-focused,'” said Superintendent Rechel Anderson.
The former Hardeeville Elementary principal and district administrator took the superintendent seat one month ago.
“Every decision that I make, even now, and in the future to come, will always permeate around what is best for the students,” Anderson said.
The task is big: taking over a school district in one of the poorest counties in the state, where more than half of the students do not meet the state’s English and math standards.
“Some of the major changes that affect some of our students and the public, particularly staff members, are principal changes,” Anderson said. “We’ve made some principal changes at Hardeeville Elementary school, at the middle school and our high school.”
No one was fired, but staff members were moved around based on their strengths.
“Our goal is to change the mindset, to make certain that we have a growth mindset here in Jasper County,” Anderson said. “We also want to make sure that people and our parents understand that we’re not here just to say that we are a school system… that we exist, but we are a school system that is about the business of children.”
Anderson said she will push to improve test scores, graduation rates, and attendance, with the ultimate goal of giving students options for their future.
“I don’t want any child to leave her and not be proud to say that I am a product of Jasper County,” she said. “We want our parents and our community to know that their children are our children… Student-centered, future-focused. That’s our commitment.”
Anderson also said one of her biggest goals is to listen to the community. She will be having a meet and greet on August 2 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Hardeeville Elementary School.