PCMS is 7th in Ga. for best teachers

It’s no secret here that Pierce County has some of the most qualified and dedicated educators in the state, but now people looking to move into the area will know it, too.

Pierce has earned top ratings among Georgia’s 180 school systems in a new ranking released by Niche, a research company providing report cards and public reviews for U.S. schools, neighborhoods and companies.

Pierce County Middle School’s instructors are ranked among the state’s top ten, and the school district took fifth place for ‘best teachers’ in Niche’s 2019 Best Schools report.

PCMS ranked seventh in the state for best teachers while Patterson Elementary ranked 15th and MES 16th of 1,234 elementary schools in Georgia. PCHS took 35th out of 413 high schools and BES came in 52nd in the elementary school category.

Niche analyzes large data sets to calculate their school system report cards, including parent, student and community surveys.  The Top 100 ranking was dominated with Atlanta-area school systems. Pierce was the sole southeast Georgia representative in some categories.

School Supt. Dr. Kevin Smith isn’t surprised Pierce Schools ranked so high for quality of educators. The system recently attained a five-star school climate rating as a direct result of similar parent, staff and student surveys.

“Our parents here in Pierce County validate the efforts and focus we place upon ensuring all of our students here in Pierce County Schools receive instruction in the most positive and supportive learning environment as possible,” Smith says. “We certainly appreciate the support of our parents and community.”

Middle School Principal Perry Tison attributes the school’s seventh place ranking (out of 520 middle schools) to the longevity of his staff and the fact most of his teachers grew up here. They’re invested in this system, he says.

More than 50 percent of PCMS teachers have 6-18 years of experience and the staff turnover rate is low, only about five percent each year.  Tison has more than 25 years in education too, and of the 53 teachers on his staff, he’s taught at least 40.

Tison also prioritizes how teachers will “fit” with the climate and personality of his school during the hiring process. Good relationships between teachers, students and families are key to a school’s success.

Teresa Dixon, principal at PES (ranked 15th in the state), agrees.

“What makes Patterson Elementary unique is the collective heart of the people who create the climate and culture of the school. Passion for our school and our community drive this commitment,” she says. “Strong work ethic, deep knowledge and passion for their subject matter, caring relationships, commitment, enthusiasm, and, most importantly genuine love for children are the key characteristics my teachers display each day at Patterson Elementary.”

Niche’s 2019 Best Schools report also gives schools and districts an overall ‘best school’ grade and categorizes schools by student diversity. Pierce County School System’s overall grade was a B+. All three elementary schools and PCMS have an A- overall score and PCHS received a B.

The Niche report may be one of Pierce School System’s most recent accolades, but other school ranking sites report favorable data for Pierce County too.

Schooldigger, a company that calculates school rankings based on test scores released by the DOE, ranked local schools sixth in the state for 2017 and 2018 and gave Pierce a five-star rating.

Schooldigger rankings by school are as follows:

• Blackshear Elementary School – 228th of 1,209.

• Midway Elementary School – 146th of 1,209.

• Patterson Elementary School – 160th of 1,209.

• Pierce County High School – 67th of 428.

• Pierce County Middle School – 63rd of 543.

Schooldigger’s most recent report is based on 2017-2018 school year test scores. Other sources the site utilizes include the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Department of Education.