Co-directors Jacquie Jones and Garland McLaurin, the team behind the Peabody Award-winning documentary “180 Days: A Year Inside an American High School,” which premiered in 2013, joined SCETV in Hartsville, South Carolina for more than a year. They filmed in 2 elementary schools struggling with new curriculum standards and maintaining funding, while meeting the needs of individual students. South Carolina ranks 45th in the country in education. The majority of Hartsville residents hover on the poverty line with a median income of less than $30,000 and more than half of the city’s students qualify for free and reduced-price school lunches.
Yet Hartsville is fighting the odds—and winning—with an astonishing 92 percent graduation rate in their city – a remarkable achievement considering that one-third of students from low-income families in many states did not graduate despite an increase in the national graduation rate of 80 percent for the class of 2012, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
“With poor children now representing a new majority of public school students, it is more critical than ever that successful models in education be explored to ensure the American dream is attainable for all of our children,” said Jacquie Jones, co- director and executive producer. “Hartsville has proven that if the right forces in a determined community come together to put children first, tangible results will follow.”
“I think if you are a middle-class person, then sometimes you don’t understand the challenges that a person living in poverty has to deal with just to get to school,” said principal Julie Mahn of Thornwell Elementary School.
“180 Days: Hartsville” is produced by SCETV and the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC). Executive producers include Leslie Fields-Cruz, NBPC’s executive director, Jacquie Jones and Amy Shumaker, South Carolina ETV executive producer of content.
Watch a clip and teaser for the documentary, below: