Florence School District Four shows signs of a comeback under new leadership

Florence District Four Interim Superintendent Dr. Zona Jefferson addresses the Board of Trustees Tuesday night. "There are a lot of good things going on," she boasted. Jefferson's permanent successor will be announced by March 28th, board members say.

TIMMONSVILLE, SC (WBTW) – A once-troubled Pee Dee school district is working to make a comeback. Florence School District Four Board of Trustees members met Tuesday night and learned about some big changes on the horizon.

It was March of 2016, just under a year ago, when South Carolina Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman declared a state of emergency for two of the three schools on the Florence Four campus in Timmonsville.

Things looked and sounded a lot different though Tuesday night, as the board heard from staff and even students who believe things are starting to look up.

After a tumultuous year, students from the Timmonsville High School Gospel Chorus summed up the mood of the evening with the a lively song of praise–at least some of which, some say, should go to FSD4 Interim Superintendent Dr. Zona Jefferson.

“There are a lot of good things going on,” she said, smiling. “You’ve heard it from our students, you’ve heard from our principals.”

Dr. Jefferson said when the State Board of Education asked her to take charge in Florence four, she was definitely up for the challenge,

“You always start with governance; you start at the top and you work your way down.”

Withing the last year, the district hired two new principals–one for Brockington Elementary, another for Johnson Middle and Timmonsville High.

“The children are wonderful; it’s the adults,” lamented Dr. Jefferson. “We need to make sure that everybody understands, and that we all have a clear vision.”

The Interim Superintendent reported that all three schools now boast full staffs, certified for their positions, and committed to putting Timmonsville students first.

“We’re looking at blended learning opportunities and best practices,” Jefferson explained.

The two principals told the board that test scores are up, and Johnson Middle School students nearly surpassed their SC Ready and SC PASS test goals in just the first year.

“Our principals are taking our students to a new level of instruction,” said Jefferson.

And, they’re taking 21st century technology with them, as the district starts its one-to-one initiative to put a computer in every students hands

“So that wherever they go, they will have mastered the skills needed to be good learners,” said a hopeful Dr. Jefferson.

As her term now comes to a close, Dr. Jefferson said she’s hopeful for the future of a school district–and a town–she now considers a second home.

“I hope to continue to support the Timmonsville community,” Dr. Jefferson remarked. “The people are wonderful, and the need is here.”

Dr. Jefferson said she told the Board that she did not want to be considered for the permanent superintendent job, but she is confident she’s leaving the district in much better shape than when she first arrived.

Board members said they plan to announce a new permanent superintendent by March 28th.