Wendell Bernard Sumter, principal •

Great Falls Elementary School • Chester County, SC

We're On Our Way!!

Great Falls Elementary School is a Title I school in rural Chester County in South Carolina, situated approximately halfway between Columbia, SC and Charlotte, NC. The percentage of students at Great Falls Elementary who received free or reduced lunch for the 2010-11 school year was 80%.

Learning, not teaching, is becoming the major focus of Great Falls Elementary School as we continue our journey of becoming a Professional Learning Community. Throughout the year, faculty, staff and administration focused on using data to guide instruction. DATA meetings were held monthly to determine what students were or were not learning and what interventions were needed to ensure the students' success. We had several professional development sessions related to PLC and had the opportunity to attend the Professional Learning Community at Work Institute™ to further enhance its implementation at Great Falls Elementary. Mrs. Lillie Jessie has guided us on the path to excellence. Her expertise was the driving force moving our school forward in the journey of becoming a PLC. At GFE, teachers and staff collaborate with teams across the curriculum and with fine arts.

Common planning time during fine arts enabled grade level teachers to meet regularly to plan instruction and assessments. Creating more unified instruction among the grade level was a result of both the common grade level planning and the use of common assessments. District wide, benchmark assessments at nine weeks intervals were also used to gauge student progress toward state standards. As a result, Great Falls Elementary School made significant gains in student achievement during the 2011-2012 school year. Overall, there were gains in all grade levels. The school received a grade of B on the federal accountability rating.

We will not be satisfied until all of our students become “Stars of Excellence” determined to shine. We are now a Microsoft Pathfinder School! Pathfinder Schools are selected because they serve as regional exemplars for integrating innovative teaching and learning into the whole school environment.

Posted in: Address Resistance, Build Consensus, Discover Why PLCs Work, Lay the Foundation

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