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Charleston County State of the Schools

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A tale of two cities.

That's how Superintendent Nancy McGinley described the Charleston County School District, because it is made up of students from the highest earning 10% of households in the city and the lowest 10%.

At the State of the Schools address Wednesday, McGinley said students are still being challenged the same, but on a different level playing field.

To show the district's efforts to engage, support and challenge students equally, they highlighted some of their programs that encourage interning and motivate students with mentors.

Middle school student Wesley Wyatt said he was an angry, misguided student until the district intervened with the mentoring program.

"I'm thankful. Very fortunate that Mr. Jones is here with me because I don't know where I would be now if I didn't have his help and having him push me to where I needed to go, in the right direction," Wyatt said.

Wyatt admits his attendance, attention in class and grades were all very poor before the mentor program. Now he said he's improved with all of those things.

"Our commitment is to stay together through high school and into college, Wesley now has a vision of going to college," his mentor Art Jones said.

This school year pinned the district with other challenges. They've been forced to take time from the education process and address other issues.

"The tragic shooting in Connecticut that raise everyone's level of concern about school safety, that's been a big challenge," McGinley said. "The bus strike, of course, was something we did not want to spend time on but what our core business is is making sure every child is successful."

Now the district focuses on the goals for 2016, the year McGinley aims to improve some success rates by more than 20 percentage points.

Their immediate goal is to have all schools get "excellent" or "good" ratings by the state. Right now there are over 30 schools in the district with "average" to "at risk" ratings.

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