Florence One Schools historically have had a less than stellar reputation for quality education, facilities and leadership. Don’t get me wrong, I love this town – it’s my home. Ashley and I are both products of Florence Schools. I went to Greenwood Elementary, Southside Middle and South Florence High School ’94. But, Florence has a long history of division and leadership struggles. Still…it’s a good community and is filled with great teachers who love teaching students. My mom taught at Greenwood Elementary most of her teaching career and my mother-in-law taught in Florence as well. Our family has come full circle because now our own children are students in Florence. Our three sons are students at Carver Elementary, Sneed Middle School and West Florence High School.
This pandemic, quarantine and e-learning has reminded me just how far Florence has come in educating students and embracing technology. I pulled out an old article from our scrapbook that was probably written around 1983 in the the Florence Morning News. It’s a story about the purchase of the very first computer at Greenwood Elementary. My dad was ahead of his time. He was passionate about computers and technology. We were one of the only families I knew with multiple computers and even internet in our house in the 80’s. He knew that computers were going to be vital to learning. My dad was chairman of the PTA at Greenwood and he helped lead the school to raise the funds to buy the first computer for student use. This photo is of me and the principal. I know…that boy in the photo looks like my son Luke went back in time in a DeLorean to take this picture…lol. He really is my mini-me. But… imagine. Imagine what life would have been like if this pandemic occurred when I was Luke’s age. No one in the 80’s would have been receiving an education during these days of quarantine in Florence. If this had happened even just a few years ago it would also be a different story. Our students became 1:1 with technology just this school year.
I’m grateful for the leadership of our Superintendent, Dr. Richard O’Malley for helping our students be one-to-one with technology. Because of some great decisions and careful planning, every student and teacher walked into this quarantine with the tools they needed to help them thrive through this last quarter of the school year.
We have a long way to go as a community, but I for one am grateful. Where there was once one computer in my Florence One elementary school, now every student has one in their hands. That is a reason to celebrate. Well done Florence One!