School District Five welcomed 17,385 students to our classrooms for another exciting school
year, and our hallways and playgrounds are filled with the laughter and youthful chatter that has
been interrupted since the pandemic altered schools in March 2020. The return of the familiar
has been a welcome comfort for our teachers, staff, and administrators. With all of the
challenges facing public education and the daily doses of drama and trauma surrounding
schools in social and mass media, it would be easy to assume that the beginning of the school
year would have challenged our staff and students. The reality is more hopeful and
encouraging. Each day our students are forming positive relationships with staff committed to
the vision of loving and growing each child.
Our school leaders reported a smooth opening as our community re-engaged in school
experiences that have been interrupted for two and a half years. The return to the familiar
included parents and guardians walking children to class, pep rallies boosting school spirit, and
countless hugs by children excited to see their friends and educators.
The reality of the schools in our community is much different from the constantly critical
narratives shared about schools in social and mass media. I recognize that we are not a perfect
school system, but I have to salute the 2,600 employees who answer the call to educate the
children of Chapin, Dutch Fork, Irmo, and Spring Hill. These teachers and staff are doing a
phenomenal job with our phenomenal children. I applaud the outlets who also share the
positive, uplifting, and encouraging educational stories that represent the reality of our daily
I encourage you to see the whole story of our schools by following #OurD5Story. You will be
proud of our schools, our educators, and our children, too.
Dr. Akil E. Ross, Sr.