Back to School: Kelly Edwards Elementary seeks to engage community, students

The principal of Kelly Edwards Elementary School is looking forward to a year filled with student and community engagement.

Principal Nakeisha Baxley said they are going through AdvancED accreditation and have the new S.C. College and Career-Ready standards in math and English language arts. “The factor that connects these two important elements is student engagement.”

This is a key factor in the education process, according to Baxley. “Educational research overwhelmingly states that students, and particularly students of poverty, learn best when they feel ownership and investment. Our main goal will be to continue the conversations and changes we’ve already started to make sure that every one of our students is engaged in his/her own learning throughout the school day,” she said.

In addition to engaging students, Baxley said it’s important to engage the community. “I cannot say enough good things about the strength of the Williston-Elko community. Many of our parents, guardians, and community members take an extremely active and very positive role in supporting the work of students, faculty, and staff at every grade level,” said Baxley.

She cited how Williston First Baptist Church started the “Reading Buddies” program for first graders and how eight churches and Walther Farms help feed over 100 families twice a month with a weekend snack pack program.

To maintain that support, Baxley said it is important for stakeholders to stay informed of opportunities to be engaged in school life by utilizing all forms of communication – letters sent home, social media, newspaper announcements, etc. “We place a very high priority on making sure that our school is a place where everyone feels welcome,” said Baxley, who invites everyone to the Open House on September 1 from 5 to 7 p.m.

Though Baxley said she always looks forward to the start of a new school year, “I am especially looking forward to the energy and excitement that comes with a combination of returning, dedicated faculty and staff and the fresh, vibrant perspective of new employees. Even though we had an unusually high turnover rate for our faculty at the end of last year, we are gaining some extremely talented folks in their place. I am so excited about the great things that will continue to happen with the phenomenal team members we are adding to our staff.”

New staff includes: Keith Augustine, 5th grade math; Kaye Austin, 2nd grade; Jessica Cagle, 5th grade ELA; Lynette Corder, 3rd grade Social Studies; Alicia Gadson, 1st grade; Terrence Manigault, 5th grade Science and Social Studies; and Kevin Williamson, Physical Education.

While there are no policy changes, Baxley reminds parents they will be allowed to walk their children in for the first two weeks of school. “Beginning August 31, students will fall into one of the following categories: car rider, bus rider, or walker. If a parent needs to speak with a teacher or the office staff prior to 7:45 a.m., he/she must park on the grassy area by the brick building,” she said.