Laurens County School District 55, Laurens, South Carolina
Challenge: After extensive research, the rural district determined that students needed more development in the area of soft skills and more exposure to cultural elements from outside the area.
Initiative: The Ladies and Gentlemen’s Clubs are after-school programs with a curriculum that promotes a positive school climate. Activities include sporting events, museum trips, college visits and an “etiquette” dinner at a five-star restaurant—all designed to reinforce education, character-building, leadership and motivation. Teachers’ weekly progress reports focus on appropriate attire, academic performance, attendance and behavior, with club members earning points that allow them to participate in the activities. Club participants also organize an annual community service project.
Impact: Overall, the Ladies and Gentlemen’s Clubs have produced dramatic improvements in attendance, behavior and academic progress at the elementary, middle and high school levels.
Advice: “One of the most critical factors is finding individuals or teams of adults who are willing to serve as club facilitators,” says Edward Murray, the district’s director of administrative services. “These individuals are key to introducing the club curriculum with fidelity and to creating the opportunities for club members to experience new things.”