West Hartsville Elementary School traces its beginning back to the year 1837 when records show that J. J. Fort was a teacher at a school in the Kelleytown area.   Another school was started by John Howle in a small house in the High Point Community soon afterward, the school was known as the Pogy School.  Betty K. Jackson attended Pogy school around the turn of the century and remembers that school was in session from about nine o'clock five days a week for six months of the year.  The other months the children worked the cotton fields.  About twenty children of all ages attended the Pogy school
     In the early 1900's some of the children began attending a school in the Kelleytown Community.  The school was located between the McLendon store (currently Shug's Smokehouse) and the home of Ben Shaw.  As the Pogy School, this was a house converted into a school.  It consisted of three rooms, each heated with a pot belly stove.  The rest rooms were out-side privies - one on the right for girls and the one on the left for boys.
     In 1907, the Trustees of the Kelleybell Church conveyed a half acre tract of land adjacent to the school for the establishment of a school for Black children.  The deed states "...the said Trustees...do erect a building on said lot of land...for a school house for colored children residing in the said district and they agree that the building in conjunction...with the Trustees of Kelleybell Lodge of Colored Odd Fellows.... that the said Lodge shall be permitted to erect a second story on the said building to be used as a Hall for the said Lodge to hold its meetings in...."
     This was in continuous operation until 1960.  The principal from 1951-1960 was Chalmers C. Cooper.  When the Kelleybell School closed in 1960, the Black students in the Kelleytown areas attended Butler School in Hartsville until schools were fully intergrated in 1971.
     The Kellytown school for white children was replaced in 1916 by a two story frame building and was built at the fork of Lydia and Ashland Roads.  The school had five rooms and an auditorium and had grades one through eleven.  After 1927, the older students attended grades eight through eleven in Hartsville. In 1938, this school was torn down and a new smaller, more modern, brick school replaced it on the same site.
     The school served the community well and marked the beginning of a lunch program, which consisted of soup and an apple or some other piece of fruit.  The building consisted of three rooms and an auditorium.  The school continued to use out-side privies.
    As the community continued to expand, the county officials began; studying and discussing the  need for consolidating the county schools.  There were four small schools with low enrollments; Lydia, High Point, Clyde, and Kelleytown.  As a result of a study of the area and its needs, it was determined that the most centrally located place was in Kelleytown, four miles west of Hartsville.  Thus the West Hartsville Elementary School as we know it today was built and  occupied in 1956.
     The original building consisted of 12 classrooms, cafeteria, and administrative offices.  In 1971, a library and six classrooms were added.  In the 1980's the school served 500 students in grades kindergarten through sixth with a faculty and staff of forty-five.

West Hartsville Elementary School has evolved tremendously over the years.  Since the early 1990s, many unique aspects have been added to our school making it the “Best in the West!”  

West Hartsville Elementary is a TAP School Site which stands for The Teacher Advancement Program.  TAP adds a lot of unique qualities to our school that other schools can only dream about.  Our teachers are able to receive monetary incentives, or bonuses, if prominent gains are made with their students in the classroom.  If a teacher at WHE demonstrates high quality instruction in the classroom and moves his/her students at least one year’s growth or more during the school year, he/she will receive an incentive bonus for their accomplishments.  Also, through this program teachers learn research-based strategies to use in their classrooms from the Master Teacher in order to increase learning with all students.   WHE has increased their overall student achievement percentages in all subject areas!  The instruction in each classroom is taught by our well-trained, dedicated teachers and is AWESOME because it tailors to the needs of every child.  The student engagement and motivation is at its highest point ever at WHE and is truly TOP NOTCH!  The discipline issues that are at all schools have greatly decreased at WHE over the years due to great teaching and student motivation and engagement in our classrooms.

West Hartsville Elementary School is also a COMER School Site.  The COMER Child Development Model has allowed all of our teachers, students, and staff to learn how the whole child develops.  It has helped prepare teachers and staff to be role models for our students, helping each child build their ethical, social, language, cognitive, physical, and pathways so that each child at WHE can be the best they can be both at school and in the real world.

Over the past few years, West Hartsville Elementary School has earned many prestigious honors which exemplify our motto “West is Best!”  and has allowed our school to be one of the best in this area. West Hartsville Elementary was honored with the Palmetto Silver Award for Student Achievement, the TAP Model School for Schools Across the Nation, and one of WHE’s teachers, Ashley Gedris Taylor, was named Darlington County School District Teacher of the Year.  Our school has scored Average on our School Report Card (years passed, we were Below Average and Unsatisfactory), and we made AYP (Adequately Yearly Progress) 2 years in a row and came out of School Improvement Status.  WHE won the prestigious NATIONAL TAP Ambassador Award in Washington, DC.  This award was only given to 4 schools in the entire country!

As you can see, West Hartsville Elementary School has greatly evolved over the past several years!  We are a close knit family who works hard each and every day to make sure all children succeed, and “No Child is Left Behind.” West truly is the BEST!
To be continued....
If anyone can add to this history, please contact Bonnie Saleeby