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      Education superintendent says "poor kids can learn"

      South Carolina State Superintendent of Education Dr. Mick Zais visited four schools in the Pee Dee on Wednesday.

      Zais toured Main Street Elementary in Lake City, Hannah-Pamplico High School, Lake City College Prep Academy and Johnsonville Middle School.

      Zais paid close attention as the Main Street Elementary's principal, Pamela Sims, highlighted some of the activities and new initiatives at her school.

      She gave a powerpoint presentation on the school's strategies to success. One of those strategies is to make sure the teachers are reaching all children, despite their family's income status.

      More than 90% of students at Main Street Elementary live in poverty.

      Dr. Zais says a child's family's income should have no bearing on their education.

      "When we have competent leaders, effective teachers, poor kids can learn. Poverty is not an excuse for failure," said Zais.

      He praised Sims for her hardwork and asked her to continue recruiting good and caring teachers.

      "Teachers will work in low income schools if they have a motivational and inspirational principal, who helps them, coaches them and appreciates their work."

      Zais says he's visited 126 schools throughout the state this year. He wants to learn more about their strengths and weaknesses.

      "One, Learn more about their successes and what's working. Two, understand the challenges they face whether that could be difficult in recruiting effective teachers, or the kind of facilities that they work in."

      Zais encouraged all the schools to improve their standardized tests scores and to focus on students reading abilities.

      He says when a student is competent with reading , it will make a world of difference in their abilities to learn.