FLORENCE, S.C. — Moore Intermediate School was notified earlier this year that it had received a special honor: It was the only school in South Carolina to win a 2015 Partnership School Award from the National Network of Partnership Schools at Johns Hopkins University.
Moore Principal Carol Schweitz said that she was surprised her school was the only one in the state to win the award but is beyond pleased to see that the hard work her staff does is being recognized.
All of the schools in Florence School District One are members of the network but use the membership to varying degrees, Schweitz said. Her school has used the partnership to help get funding for two separate programs: Dads in the Dugout and the Moore Lions Club.
“We are a member of the NNPS and they encourage us to come up with activities that promote community involvement,” Schweitz said. “If you complete an application for a grant, they will provide up to $1,000 in grant money to help you implement your project.”
The school’s first project revolved around getting more men involved in activities with their children.
“Our first project was Dads in the Dugout, which was basically encouraging our dads to get involved with our students. We submitted that grant application and got a $1,000 grant and we were able to implement that two years ago. Once we completed the project we actually submitted it to NNPS and we received a promising practice award.”
After having success with the first grant application, Moore submitted another one, this time focusing on student achievement, inside and outside the classroom.; the school received another $1,000 grant and a promising practice award for this project as well.
“This past year, our project was the Lions Club (Moore’s mascot is a lion) which focused on at-risk males and helping them socially, emotionally and academically, to help keep them in school, to work on their grades and help them be better citizens in the community. If you look at our test scores, the club also targeted the sub-group that was always performing below standards.”
Dr. Aneta Hopkins, behavioral health counselor at Moore, said the data collected from students who took part in the club showed that the extra, personal, attention was paying off.
“We were looking to see a 10 percent decrease in office referrals,” Hopkins said. “We actually saw a 40 percent decrease, which was huge. If you are getting an office referral it is usually because of conflict with another person, so we were seeing an overall change. We also showed a lot of academic gain so the club activities definitely spilled over.”
Of the 17 participants in the club, 16 of them saw increased MAP Test scores.
Hopkins said the club provided students an extracurricular element that they might not be able to have otherwise.
“It was a great opportunity to be involved with a club,” Hopkins said. “We have many clubs , but many of these kids can’t stay because they don’t have transportation home or they can’t get to different events, so this really helped them like they were part of something and it was a new experience.”
A local church allowed the school to use its van to transport students home.
The club met twice a month and worked on students’ social skills, behavior expectations and their academics. The students had to keep a log of how they were demonstrating at home the character traits they worked on during club .
Schweitz and Hopkins both said it was because of Eddie Thomas and Robert Bethea, the clubs leaders, that the program was so successful. They said that having male role models is extremely important for all young men and that the two leaders modeled the traits they were teaching the students.
They also got the students involved in community service projects, such as wrapping presents for underprivileged children at Christmas.
Having had promising practices two years in a row, Moore was eligible for the school award. They filled out an application over the summer and were notified in August that they had received the national school award.
For the 2015-16 school year the Moore Lions Club is returning even bigger, with guest speakers from organizations like the Florence County Sheriff’s Office and the city of Florence.
“This year we don’t have the NNPS funding for the Lions Club but it was so successful that we are going to continue it,” Schweitz said. “We are looking for funding and are hoping to get some community partners. This year we did open it up to any males that wanted to participate so we have over 40 students that want to participate.”
Community members interested in volunteering or helping to fund the Moore Lions Club can reach the school at 843-664-8171.