2 Midlands schools receive prestigious Palmetto's Finest Award - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

2 Midlands schools receive prestigious Palmetto's Finest Award

Camden High School faculty and staff celebrate being named as a 2014 Palmetto's Finest school.  (Source: Kershaw County School District) Camden High School faculty and staff celebrate being named as a 2014 Palmetto's Finest school. (Source: Kershaw County School District)

Two Midlands schools have been named 2014 Palmetto's Finest award winners.

Camden High School in Kershaw County and Fairfield Magnet School for Math & Science in Winnsboro were two of just five schools in South Carolina to be honored Wednesday.

Presented by the SC Association of School Administrators (SCASA), the schools progressed through an intensive application process requiring self-evaluation, peer review and on-site examinations. Student achievement is the foundation for all award criteria.

"We see this as a validation of all of the great things that happen at Camden HIgh School and across the Kershaw County School District on a daily basis," said CHS Principal Dan Matthews.  "It is with great pride that I accept this on behalf of the hardest working faculty and staff anywhere."

SCASA officials said CHS's philosophy behind its motto—Commitment to Excellence—resonates in the classroom, on the athletic fields and in extracurricular activities. 

Judges were also impressed to see that the school's test scores are at an all-time high. To increase student engagement, CHS teachers use data-driven instruction, mastery-based learning, relevance, technology, school-wide writing instruction and common core transition. 

In the past five years, CHS has donated over $100,000 and 5,000 service hours to various charities. Eighty-nine percent of Camden High's 2013 graduating class either went on to further education or joined the military. The "One Team, One Town, One Goal" permeates within the school and throughout the community.

CHS is the second school under Matthews' leadership to receive the award. Lugoff-Elgin Middle School was named a Palmetto's Finest Award winner in 2009 when Matthews was its principal. 

In addition, another Kershaw County school—Doby's Mill Elementary—received the honor in 2007.

"To have three of our schools earn this prestigious award in seven years illustrates the outstanding schools that we have in Kershaw County," said Kershaw County School District Superintendent Frank Morgan. "This is a great day for Camden High School and our whole community."  

Fairfield Magnet School for Math and Science serves 359 students in grades Pre-K-6. 

To ensure their students are prepared for life administrators, teachers, and staff work diligently to ensure that their curriculum and instructional practices meet the needs of all students.

Teachers integrate science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math into all curriculum areas. Students have the opportunity to participate in dance, band, orchestra, Spanish, Beta Club, STEAM day (clubs), chorus, and the Morning News Show. 

Fairfield Magnet School for Math and Science has been a Palmetto Gold school for two consecutive years.

Midland Elementary in Galivants Ferry, Forestbrook Middle in Myrtle Beach and Okatie Elementary School were the other institutions to be honored this year.

SCASA is the professional organization for school leaders in South Carolina, with a membership of more than 3,700.  From professional development opportunities and research, to publications and legislative advocacy, SCASA's focus is to support school leaders in providing the best possible education for South Carolina's young people.  As a state affiliate of three national associations for school leaders, SCASA also works on the national level.

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