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Effingham schools get high marks
Think tank places SEHS in top 50 of state's public high schools
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The Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s parent report card of schools gave high marks to some Effingham County schools.

The report card is based off of test scores. Schools are ranked from the highest to the lowest of students that meet or exceed the state standards. The percentage of students who exceed the standards is used as the tiebreaker if two schools have the same score.

South Effingham High School was 44th in the state among 369 public schools ranked, and Effingham County High School was ranked 177th.

“It’s a tribute to the administrative staff that has been here the past year,” SEHS Principal Dan Noel said. “They held (the school) together, and they did a great job.”

Noel, who took over from interim principal Charlie Bannister after previous principal Lang Brannen took a similar position at Savannah’s Jenkins High School, also praised the school’s faculty and students.

“I’ve been so impressed with how hard (the teachers) work academically, and how they treat the kids, the way they discipline,” he said. “The students here take a great interest in, academically, where they’re trying to go. They’re serious about the tests that they take.”

Noel said the parent support in the community is vital to the success of the school. He said the school board must be recognized for the support provided to the school.

“There’s a great emphasis here on the academics,” Noel said. “They want to be successful. My theme is can we get to that next level.

“We’re 44th. We want to be first. The reason we’re 44 is because everyone has helped us get there,” Noel said.

He said if it weren’t for the elementary and middle schools the high school would not be in the position it is in. Noel commended the administrative staff for going above and beyond during the transition time between permanent principals.

ECHS has been changing the approach to education in the school.

“Last fall, we decided that we needed to take a step back,” ECHS Principal Yancy Ford said. “We felt like for us to be successful and for our children to be successful we needed to create relationships with them.

“We want kids to trust us, and we want kids to believe in us,” Ford said. “Before you can do that you have to create a relationship with the child so they know that the decisions you make are in the best interests for them.”

He said the teachers have worked to build relationships with their students, and to do whatever is necessary to help the students learn.

“I’m very proud of what our teachers have done,” Ford said.

Ford said when students realize the teachers care they will do anything. He said it is important to have the relationships between the school, students and parents.

Superintendent Randy Shearouse said he is proud of the schools for what they have done.

“I think a big reason that that has occurred is that our teachers are doing a lot with staff development,” Shearouse said.

He said there has been a lot of training with the new state standards that are being implemented.

“I think our system has taken a lead in making sure our teachers are trained in those areas,” Shearouse said.

All of the middle schools in the county ranked in the top 30 percent of schools in the state. There were 476 middle schools across the state ranked on the report card.

South Effingham Middle ranked 49th, Ebenezer Middle ranked 105th and Effingham County Middle ranked 130th.

“We’re very excited about being ranked so high,” SEMS Principal Dr. Mark Winters said. “It’s a testament to the hard work our students and teachers do.”

Winters said the students that come to SEMS come in with a good foundation.

“We have teachers with very high expectations,” he said.

Winters said the “true talent” of a teacher is having the ability to inspire students to go beyond what their own expectations for themselves.

Winters said there is so much attention focused on students who are struggling that sometimes the students who are not are not challenged.

“You have to make learning enjoyable, but meaningful,” Winters said. “There are a lot of teachers here who are experts at that.”

There were several elementary schools that also did well on the report card.

There were 1,176 elementary schools ranked in the state. South Effingham Elementary was ranked 160th. Ebenezer Elementary was ranked 164th,. Marlow Elementary was 441st, Rincon Elementary was 516th, Guyton Elementary was 620th, Sand Hill Elementary was 649th and Springfield Elementary was 752nd.