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McDonald: Thanks for support

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David McDonald

As I complete my final days as principal of Indian Land Middle School and we close another school year, I wanted to take the opportunity thank you for the many years of support provided to Indian Land Middle School – specifically the students and staff – and to me. For the last six years, I have had the honor to serve as the first principal of ILMS and while there were challenges, there have been so many more amazing moments of celebration.
When I became principal of ILMS, my personal goal was simple – help shape and build a school that our community could be proud of and support. It has amazed me over the years to watch our community willingly provide the necessary support for the mission of our school.
The community partnerships allowed us to advance learning and opportunities for every student that would have otherwise taken many more years to achieve. Some of the more prominent include:
u In 2010, two solid years of work were recognized when we became the first School to Watch in Lancaster County and only the fifth in the state. This put our school and community in a national spotlight as we worked to share our innovation and achievement with others around the country. Today, the practices used at ILMS to strengthen student achievement are being used in schools across our country.
u Achieving an absolute rating of excellent on our annual school report card was a goal of mine and more importantly of our educators from Day 1. We all felt that if we could work to raise student achievement, we could receive an excellent rating from the State Department of Education. In 2011, ILMS received an excellent rating for the first time.
This happened because our educators are dedicated to student success. Our faculty not only believed it could happen, they made it happen. Indian Land Middle School is outperforming schools around ours and schools like ours.
Results of this level are achieved only when every person (educator, student, school partner) believe in and work toward a common goal.  
u ILMS has received five National Character Education Promising Practices awards and has been recognized twice as the S.C. State School of Character. The school works to create, demonstrate and value positive character development.  The goal is to educate the whole child – meaning academically, socially and developmentally. Character and community continues to be a focus at ILMS.  
Those are just three of the amazing accomplishments over the years. Likewise, the community partnerships that have been developed continue to amaze the faculty and staff of the school. Saying thank you does not even justify the level of appreciation we feel toward these partners:  
u IL Rotary Club donations of manpower to help us improve our school grounds as well as more than $10,000 to purchase Smartboards, literacy materials and so much more;
u Walmart donations to a teacher supply closet and money to help us provide programs to our students;
u Transformation Church donations of more than $22,000 to help us provide new technology in our classrooms, backpack program to support kids on the weekends to have food, mentors and so much more;
u IL Rescue Squad donations to support students attending field trips;
u Knights of Columbus donating more than $3,000 to help provide technology for students;
u Dr. Adam Cooper helping with technology, Bird Dentistry providing backpacks for every sixth-grade student;
u Harris Teeter donating to our PTO;
u Figaro’s Pizza for its many donations to the school;
u Sun City mentors, tutors, teacher assistants and more;
And the list goes on and on and on.
I am not sure that everyone in the IL community fully understands the appreciation the students of our school have for the many talented men and women in our community who have worked to provide for them. I will tell you firsthand that over the years nothing has made me happier than to tell students that our community believes in them and supports our mission and has made it happen.
While I am the first to admit that we have faced some challenging times, I think the exciting times have provided so much more for our students. In my time as principal, we have never been about window dressing; we have been about work and making student achievement a priority. I am sure there are those who think that I have been tough or demanding, but I offer no apologies for that. Expecting the best of our teachers, students and community is what has driven us to achieve the things we have over the years and will be what keeps ILMS on its trajectory of success.
We chose this as our school motto several years ago: “What happens here will change the world.” I believe that nothing could be closer to the truth. These students will continue to change our world and it is being done each and every day in so many ways.
To each and every person who has supported me in my time as principal of ILMS, I want to say thank you.
I know that I will forever be grateful for the experiences I have had here and I leave ILMS a better place for my having been here and look forward to hearing about all of the great things that will come from ILMS.
I wish you all nothing but the best in the future.

This is the last week for Indian Land Middle School Principal David McDonald.