Landrum Middle School named South Carolina’s best reading school

Published 7:13 pm Thursday, February 27, 2014

For the second consecutive year, the top finalists for the South Carolina International Reading Association’s Exemplary Reading Schools Award were schools from Spartanburg School District One.

This makes four years consecutively that a District One School has won the award or been an honor school.

Landrum Middle School was named the SCIRA Exemplary Reading School for 2014.

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“The Exemplary Reading Award
validates the intentional hard work and dedication of our teachers and students in placing top priority on literacy at Landrum Middle School. We are so blessed to have received this award,” stated Dr. Crystal McSwain, principal of Landrum Middle School.

Landrum Middle School will be recognized at the International Reading Conference in New Orleans later this year.

Holly Springs Motlow Elementary School was named an honor school.

District One Superintendent Dr. Ron Garner, said the district is extraordinarily proud of this accomplishment.

“We are so proud of these schools and their faculty, staff, students and communities. These awards just don’t happen. They are the affirmation that a school is doing its best to provide a high-quality program of literacy instruction where every child is afforded an opportunity to develop that most critical skill of reading and the love of reading.”

Speaking about their visit to Landrum Middle School, the chair of the Exemplary Reading School Program, Mary Chandler-McVann, said, “What impressed the visiting team about Landrum Middle School was its impressive administrative team — the principal, assistant principal, and instructional coach are a dynamic team. They work one-on-one with teachers to improve their craft. Strong leadership begins at the top. This school has broken the mold of the slide downward that usually occurs in middle schools.”

Spartanburg School District One had several teams of teachers presenting workshops on strategies for successful reading schools. Seven presentations offered numerous times during the conference were given by teachers from Spartanburg District One, including the two Exemplary Reading finalist schools and last year’s SCIRA Exemplary Reading School, Campobello-Gramling.

Schools must go through a rigorous application process and site visit(s) in order to be considered for the SCIRA Exemplary Reading Award. The criteria for an exemplary reading school are listed below:

The reading program is consistent with sound theory, research and practice; the reading program facilitates student learning; students have access to a wide variety of reading materials; students demonstrate success in reading; comprehension strategies are taught and applied across the curriculum; listening, speaking, viewing and writing are integrated into and support the reading program; administrators and teachers provide leadership and vision for the building and/or district reading program; the school and/or district offer support services to the program; literacy activities occur outside of school; and the community, including parents, is involved in the reading program.

Following the extensive written application, selected schools had a team of educators from across the state make a site visit. Each team interviewed students, parents, teachers and district staff, as well as visited classrooms and observed literacy practices taking place.

Winning schools must meet the stringent criteria set by SCIRA’s Exemplary Reading Program Award Committee. Each program has some unique aspects that fit the circumstances and needs of that particular school. Schools with exemplary reading and literacy programs will demonstrate the following qualities:

Strong administrative leadership; strong support and leadership from the school district that aligns with the total vision and mission of the school system; a balanced approach to reading instruction; active parent and community involvement; an emphasis on reading throughout the curriculum; ongoing, meaningful staff development; early intervention for struggling readers; an emphasis on encouraging students to develop both the skills to read and the desire to read.