ANDERSON CO., S.C. (WSPA) — According to Anderson School District 5, school report cards were released two weeks ago from the South Carolina Department of Education. Varennes Elementary has made significant improvement in just one year, going from “below average” to “good” academic rating.

South Carolina School Ratings rank system:

  • Excellent 
  • Good
  • Average
  • Below Average
  • Unsatisfactory

According to Principal Danessa Barr, Varennes Elementary has come a long way and received their first ever “good” rating. 

 “When we got that good rating on the report card, we were like ‘Oh my goodness,’” said Barr. 

Barr said more than 90% of students are in the poverty index. The state measures the poverty index by the percentage of students who are homeless, in foster care or qualify for Medicaid or other benefits within the last three years. 

“You still can be successful. You still can do it. You can still be good, you can still be excellent. Money is not a measure of who you are as a person,” said Barr. 

Over the past two years as the principal of Varennes Elementary, Barr as well as the rest of Varennes faculty and staff, have been working diligently to improve students reading, writing, mathematics, social studies and science skills. 

Barr said it takes a community to help turn a school around. 

“We just started trying to get the community involved, working with the Rotary Club of Anderson, also working with community partners. Such as churches and different things. Just trying to bring those resources into our families and for our students.”

In the classroom, teachers are utilizing educational programs such as RISE to take students learning to the next level. 

“We’ve tried to work on the social emotional learning of our students because we realize all students need self regulating skills. We have many multilingual learners here at Varennes Elementary School making sure that they’re prepared for success because we know English is not their first language,” said Barr. 

According to Barr, parents are also the key to students’ success. She said the staff at Varennes Elementary make it an effort to stay in communication with parents regularly. 

 “They’re aware of the grades the students are receiving and their progress or the lack of progress. We’re having those constant conversations and having those parent meetings,” said Barr. 

Seeing the progress over the past two years that students have made brings Barr joy. 

“It really is great to be able to come here every day to be the principal because. You know that you’re making a difference,” said Barr. 

According to Barr, the school is only six points away from reaching an excellent rating. 

“This is our goal for next year and we strongly believe we can achieve that,” said Barr. 

To check your child’s school rating click here.