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Dr. Craig Witherspoon gives annual Richland One 'State of the District' speech

Richland One's State of the District 2023 speech addressed everything from 3K to pandemic learning loss.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Richland One School District officially wrapped up the 2022 school year with the annual State of the District address. 

On Thursday night, parents, students, and staff listened in as superintendent Dr. Craig Witherspoon spoke about the growth and struggles the district faced in the last year. 

The hour-long speech discussed everything from 3K to community partnership programs. Dr. Witherspoon explained the district has continued growing in the last year.

"This address gives us the opportunity to reflect on the past year and refocus toward the continuous improvement path that is before us," the superintendent stated.

Although Dr. Witherspoon talked about the district's growth in literacy, kindergarten readiness, and school social work programs he also addressed the challenges facing the district as well, explaining that they have not fully overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Schools are seeing rebounds but not recovery, and I will add not as yet. To rebound means to get back where we were before the pandemic, and recovery is coming back better than before."

The presentation addressed areas of triumph and places where there is room for improvement going into the next school year. 

Dr. Witherspoon said that several community partnership programs have helped provide books, food, and clothing to children in the district over the past year. He also explained that the graduation rate has increased to 86% and that test scores are rising to pre-pandemic levels.

Mom, Mariah Jeffcoat has two daughters in the district and says she hopes to see more of a focus on pandemic recovery and programs for kids with special interests.

"I think just giving them more exposure. As a parent, in regard to my children, my husband and I, our kids had an idea and a dream, and exposing them to that idea opened the door for entrepreneurship," Jeffcoat said.

Those directly impacted by the changes showed up to watch as well. Teachers and students sat in the audience to take in Thursday evening's message. 

High schooler, Shybon Dawsonguinyard, says he wants to see more programming for students as well, but ones that are more focused on career readiness.

"I think we have more courses on how to invest in finances, especially maybe cryptocurrency or the stock exchange because the world is becoming more technological by the hour," the student said.

Dr. Witherspoon said they will be collecting the data from this school year and taking note of needed changes as they prepare for the fall.

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