SPARTANBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – The first day of school was filled with introductions among students, but this year at Beech Springs Intermediate, it was for staff too.

“It’s really important for me to give back to the community that raised me,” said Dr. Ashley Williams.

Dr. Williams is the new principal at Beech Springs and is guiding this Spartanburg District Five school through a transformation. She said she understands the impact the changes will bring as a former student of the school herself.

“It’s important as a district that we adapt to all the growth that we have in our area and it’s really important to us because all we care about is those relationships and changing lives,” said Dr. Williams.

Beech Springs is transforming into a middle school, preparing to house 7th and 8th graders next year, rather than 5th and 6th graders.

The construction comes with perks, like new classrooms and labs.

“All these new changes are super exciting,” said Ryne Mangum, 6th grade science and social studies teacher. “I’ve been here since before the building started being built, and I’ve gotten to see the building change and see all these new classrooms and I’m lucky enough to be in one of these new science labs to see all of the changes that are coming.”

Dr. Williams said the transition will mean many 5th graders will spend 4 years at the school instead of two. She’s hoping it can be a bonding experience.

“5th grade is such a unique time period in their life and they’re becoming little teenagers and so to be able to pour into them so they can figure out who they are both academically and socially, that’s what I’m most excited about,” said Dr. Williams. “Seeing those light bulb moments go on in the lives and in the minds of our kids.”

Staff and students are excited for what the growth means moving forward. 

“It’s a really cool change for D5, a lot of expansion because that means we are going to see a lot more students and that’s really exciting for us,” said Mangum.