Thomas Sumter Academy competes annually in various academic competitions at the local, regional and state levels. A few examples are as follows:
- Spelling Bee Competition for students in 3rd – 5th Grades
- Geography Bee Competition for students in 4th – 5th Grades
- Lieutenant Governor's Writing Contest for students in 5th Grade
- USC Sumter Poetry Contest for students in 1st – 5th Grades
- Science Fair Competition required for 5th grade both in school wide competition and state competition
- Literary Meet includes Story-Telling Competition for 2nd and 3rd Grades and
- Poetry Recitation for 4th and 5th Grades
Our Pre-First department is a special place where children are educated in a safe, nurturing environment. Since children develop skills at different rates, students work on language arts and math skills in small groups which are designed to take them where they are and move them forward at their own pace.
The Pre-First curriculum begins with our half-day 3 yr. old class where children develop essential social skills, motor skills, math, language, and pre-reading skills through play and group activities. Students participate in local field trips such as the pumpkin patch in the Fall and the strawberry farm in the Spring to offer educational experiences outside of the regular school setting. Our three year olds also attend a weekly class in the science lab, where they have hands-on interaction with animals. Dance, and a combined library and music time are also attended once a week. Children must turn 3 by September 1 in order to enroll in this program.
Our 4 year olds continue to develop foundational skills in a full day program. Instructional time in language arts and math is balanced with outdoor activities and a state-mandated rest time each day. Children learn in a hands-on environment which encourages structured activity as well as time for exploration and inquiry. Our four year olds participate in weekly enrichment classes. These include dance, combined library and music time, science lab for hands on experiences with animals, and computer instruction where students work at their own level in a pre-reading and pre-math program supervised by our Lower School Computer Lab teacher. Field trips offer real-world experiences and opportunities for children to visit interesting places in our community. Students must be 4 by September 1 to enroll in this program.
Our 5 year old Kindergarten rounds out the Pre-First program with a unit-based curriculum that integrates the language and math skills that should be mastered in order for a child to be ready for first grade. Guided reading instruction and participation in our Accelerated Reader program, once a child is a beginning reader, are emphasized. Developmentally appropriate activities in Learning Centers which help build social skills as well as academic skills are intermingled with large and small group instruction each day. Kindergarten students participate in weekly enrichment classes in the areas of music, library, PE, dance, science lab where hands on interaction with animals and beginning science skills are taught, and computer lab where students work on pre-reading and pre-math programs at their own level to extend the classroom curriculum. Field trips and guest speakers enhance the learning during the year. Students must be 5 by September 1 to enroll in this program.
Students in grades 1-3 receive self-contained classroom instruction. Class size is limited to ensure adequate time for individualized instruction. Understanding that children learn using different modalities, teachers use various strategies to teach skills necessary for progressing to the next level. Many of our classrooms are equipped with auditory amplification systems and all of our classrooms have a computer for student enrichment and Accelerated Reader testing.
Thomas Sumter Academy uses the Houghton Mifflin Reading Series. This series uses a systematic, integrated approach to teach spelling, language, reading, phonics, structured writing, and grammar. The “Step Up To Writing” model is used to encourage self-expression through creative writing. This program offers a systematic approach to learning the writing process from pre-writing to the final copy. Skills progress each year so that by the time a child reaches high school, they have the foundation needed to be successful writers for course requirements, pleasure, and standardized tests such as the SAT. Cursive handwriting is taught second semester of second grade using the Zaner Bloser method of cursive instruction. As children become independent readers, they participate in the Accelerated Reader-Renaissance program which tests comprehension, literacy, and vocabulary skills. Children read books on their individual reading level, and earn points and prizes for their efforts. They also have the opportunity to work on reading and language skills through the Success Maker program in the Lower School Computer Lab. Students attend sessions in the lab and in the classroom three times a week to practice and master skills at their own ability level. Many students progress quickly above their current grade level which offers a way to challenge them beyond the regular curriculum. Teachers use reports generated from Success Maker as a tool to monitor students’ progress and evaluate strengths and weaknesses. This helps them tailor instruction to better meet their students’ needs. Wordly Wise is a supplementary vocabulary program that is used to build vocabulary skills in 2nd and 3rd grades in a different context beyond their vocabulary related to reading instruction.
The Silver Burdett Ginn mathematics series is used for math instruction. This series incorporates skills practice with the use of hands-on manipulatives and activities to construct meaning to math concepts. Basic math concepts, their application, and problem solving are emphasized at each grade level. Multiplication is introduced at the end of second grade to ready students for further instruction in third grade. The Success Maker computer program used in the Lower School Computer Lab further enables children to practice and master math skills at their own level. This serves to challenge students who are ahead and reinforce skills to those who need extra practice on grade level.
In 1st and 2nd grade, social studies and science concepts are taught in an integrated manner through the Reading curriculum. Topics such as animals, the earth, friends and family, space, and cultures are explored through exciting stories, discussions, and activities. Students also attend the Lower School Science lab weekly to conduct experiments and study science concepts appropriate for their grade level. Students further their knowledge of social studies and science concepts by participating in field trips to EdVenture Museum, Riverbanks Zoo, and the South Carolina Aquarium. Students participate in classroom and school wide projects such as recycling, fundraising for the Leukemia Society, and adopting children through the Salvation Army Angel Tree project. First graders participate in a First Grade Litter Bugs project in which they help clean up litter around campus once a month.
Third graders use the Pearson Scott Foresman Science curriculum in the classroom. The Science Lab teacher correlates with the classroom teachers to conduct science experiments and extension activities that follow the course of study on a weekly basis. Gibbs South Carolina History is also used for a study of our state’s history. Interesting projects and a trip to the State House in Columbia help bring this study to life for the students.
The technology curriculum for grades 1-3 include instruction in keyboarding, Microsoft applications such as Word and Powerpoint, and the use of a Spanish program that teaches this language at each student’s own pace. In grade three, the Computer lab instructor works with the classroom teachers to design projects that correlate with social studies or science topics that utilize the computer skills that have been learned throughout the year.
Physical fitness is vital to the total well-being of all children. All students attend P.E. class on a daily basis to develop gross motor skills, teamwork, fundamentals of sports, and to foster a lifestyle of daily physical activity.
The 1st -3rd grade curriculum is rounded out by weekly enrichment classes in Art, Music, Dance, and Library. These classes are taught by gifted instructors who are able to develop each child’s talents and interests in these areas. Art displays, music programs, dance recitals and performances as well as book fairs and book clubs offer opportunities for students to showcase their creativity and talents. Students in grades 1-3 attend a weekly chapel service led by area youth leaders and chaplains from Shaw AFB. Students also participate in monthly character education classes led by the Lower School guidance Counselor.
Students in grades 4 and 5 are in departmentalized classes for Language Arts, Math, Social Studies, and Science. Students are placed in College Prep or Advanced College Prep sections for Math and Language Arts based on the previous years’ test scores and classroom performance. Both sections cover the skills necessary for that grade level with the advanced section moving at a quicker pace which enables them to progress into the next grade level’s skills.
The Language Arts curriculum is based on the Houghton Mifflin Reading Series and Houghton Mifflin English. The curriculum focuses on literature comprehension, literacy skills, spelling, grammar mechanics and usage, and various types of writing such as paragraphs, expository, narratives, paraphrasing, and poetry. The Step Up To Writing program is used to teach the writing process in a systematic, innovative way to prepare students for writing successfully throughout their high school and college years. The Language Arts curriculum is enhanced by projects, visiting authors, and a field trip to Charleston in 4th grade to visit the setting of a novel by author Idella Bodie. 5th graders write and illustrate their own story which is published and delivered in a hard-bound copy for students to share with their friends and families. Wordly Wise is used for vocabulary instruction.
Silver-Burdett & Ginn Mathematics is used as the basis for math instruction. Students use the textbook along with classroom manipulatives to continue to develop and master the math skills necessary to progress to the next level. Students at the 5th grade Advanced College Prep level use McDougal Littell Math Course I, a 6th grade math curriculum, to further challenge those students who are ready to move beyond the standard math curriculum.
The Social Studies curriculum includes Pearson Scott Foresman Building A Nation in 4th grade and McGraw Hill U.S. Adventures in Time and Place in 5th grade. United States History integrated with geography is taught using these resources from the pre-Revolutionary War period to modern times. Fifth grade students participate in an interactive “Oregon Trail” cooperative learning project. Other activities and projects on states, capitals and map skills extend the curriculum in both grades.
Houghton Mifflin Discovery Works Science is used in both 4th and 5th grades. Life science, physical science, and earth science are covered in each grade level and knowledge is built upon each year. Students work in cooperative groups and participate in the TSA Science Fair each year. Experiments for each unit are conducted in the Lower School Science Lab each week and led by our Science Lab teacher who collaborates with the classroom teachers to design and organize the activities.
As students gain knowledge and information in each subject area, they are able to apply and extend that knowledge by conducting research and completing projects in the Lower School Computer Lab. The computer lab instructor collaborates with the classroom teachers to design projects that enable students to utilize their technology skills in order to complete assignments related to their courses of study.
Physical Education is offered daily in a combined 4th and 5th grade class. Students dress out for P.E. and are engaged in activities that develop motor skills, coordination, and fundamentals of games and sports. Students participate in Jump Rope for Heart, and The Presidential Physical Fitness Award program.
The 4th and 5th grade curriculum is rounded out by weekly enrichment classes in Art, Music, Dance, and Library. These classes are taught by gifted instructors who are able to develop each child’s talents and interests in these areas. Art displays, music programs, dance recitals and performances as well as book fairs and book clubs offer opportunities for students to showcase their creativity and talents.
Fourth graders learn the Dewey Decimal System and research skills in the library. Fifth graders continue to develop their reference skills and apply their writing skills to publish their own hard-bound book from start to finish. Students attend a weekly chapel service led by area youth pastors and chaplains from Shaw AFB. Students also participate in a monthly character education program led by our Lower School Guidance Counselor. This program, Core Essentials, is sponsored by Chick-Fil-A. Fifth grade students have an additional guidance session each month on topics that are relevant to upper elementary aged children.
In order to keep reading and comprehension skills fresh over the summer months, a summer reading program is in place for rising 1st – 5th Graders. Contracts and guidelines for each grade level are sent home each spring. Guidelines vary according to grade.
First Graders can be read to or read independently if appropriate. The names of books and how many pages read are recorded on a reading log to be turned in the first day of school. A student must read at least 200 pages.
Second Graders read books on or above 2nd Grade level independently. The names of books and how many pages read are recorded on a reading log to be turned in the first day of school. A student must read a minimum of 200 pages.
Third Graders must also read a minimum of 200 pages and record on a reading log. A project is also completed on one of the books read and turned in with the reading log on the first day of school.
Fourth Graders read at least two books from a list of books selected by the teachers. Guidelines for a book report are given for one of the books, and the student must take an Accelerated Reader test on the second book during the first week of school.
Fifth Graders also must read two books from a selected list during the summer. The student must take an Accelerated Reader test on both books. Additionally, the student must complete a story map and outline of one of the books to prepare them for a book report which is written in class at the beginning of the year.
*Students enrolling in July or early August are given an extension on their summer reading requirements.