Guest editorial: Find the good - praise it

What a simple statement, "Find the good and praise it." How much happier would our individual and collective lives be if we all made that statement our daily mantra?

In recent months, the school board has been doing just that. Doing so helps establish an uplifting and positive climate to each of our meetings.

The following are some recent examples of praiseworthy events that have happened in our school district.The North Augusta High School's School Improvement Council was selected as one of the finalists for the coveted Riley Award, given each year to the state's outstanding SIC. The NAHS SIC has brought together a formidable group of students, parents, teachers, community members and administrators to spearhead improvement activities at the school. They have reached out to our political representatives and a range of community members to bring attention to the school's facility needs. In addition, they have helped implement the Freshman Academy, sponsored quarterly student recognition activities and assisted with the new mentoring program. The SIC did not win the Riley Award this year, but wait till next year.

A few days ago, Sen. Tom Young and Rep. Bill Hixon visited Hammond Hill Elementary to present resolutions passed by the S.C. House and Senate recognizing the school for winning a National Blue Ribbon Award. Both gentlemen spent over two hours touring the school, meeting students and staff and observing student learning taking place. They might be coming back soon because it was just announced that HHE is one of five schools in the state to win the prestigious Palmetto's Finest Award.

Last spring, Lisa Raiford, an upper-elementary teacher at the Center of Innovative Learning at Pinecrest, was selected as Aiken County's teacher of the year. Raiford is now a finalist for South Carolina's teacher of the year. Way to go Ms. Raiford! All of us are rooting for you.

Each year, the S.C. Department of Education provides Palmetto Gold and Silver Awards to those schools with outstanding performance on the state's accountability tests. This past week, 20 of Aiken County's public schools were announced as recipients of these awards. Five Area 2 schools - Belvedere, Hammond Hill, North Augusta Elementary, North Augusta Middle and North August High - were all honored. Even though the "bar" for academic achievement continues to be raised, our schools continue to meet the challenge.

Lastly, the Aiken County Career and Technology Center recently was featured on Dan Rather Reports, the hour-long weekly news program that airs on AXS TV. Tognum America's student apprentice program was the focus of the program. As you may recall, Tognum has a diesel engine manufacturing plant located in Graniteville. About a year ago, Tognum and the ACCTC initiated a student apprentice program. The program is so highly thought of that, in addition to the Dan Rather TV piece, Tognum and school district representatives were invited to the White House to discuss the program with education personnel there. Pretty heady stuff!

There is always room to improve public education in our country, state and district. Tremendous efforts are underway to bring about those improvements. In the meantime, all of us can show more appreciation for the positives that are happening every day in our schools. How do we do that? You know the answer, "Find the good and praise it."