I have written before about Arnold and Carol Hillman. See here and here. They were educators in Pennsylvania who retired to South Carolina. Being educators, they couldn’t really retire; they got involved. They created an organization called the South Carolina Organization of Rural Schools, to raise awareness of the schools that are underfunded in impoverished rural areas (check out its Facebook page). They visited the public schools of Jasper County, met the students, and discovered their new purpose in life. Arnold created a club for boys called the Jasper Gentlemen. Carol created a club for girls called the Diamonds and Pearls. They raised money to pay for trips, experiences, blazers, pizza, and college visits. I hear from them from time to time. They are wild about these kids and want them to have good lives. They love them.

Here is their latest report:


Benefits of the ROSO (Reach One Save One) Program

By Carol and Arnold Hillman founders of SCORS (South Carolina Organization of Rural Schools)

Four Years Ago:

In 2015 Carol and Arnold Hillman approached Dr. Vashti Washington, then superintendent of the Jasper County Schools. They said, “We just moved from Pennsylvania to South Carolina and want to learn about public education in our new home. She directed them to Dr. L.R. Dinkins, who described his idea of the ROSO program (Reach One Save One). His vision was for a group of high school students to learn leadership, problem-solving and important life skills that would not only benefit them but teach them to mentor 5th graders who were in need of some special attention.

Diamonds and Pearls and the Jasper Gentlemen were born.


May 22, 2019, was an exciting and tiring day. We took Carol’s group, “Diamonds and Pearls,” to the University of South Carolina. The 10 girls, who are freshman and sophomores at the Ridgeland-Hardeeville High School in Jasper County, SC, spent a wonderful day learning about the University in particular and about higher education in general.

Dr. Pedersen, Dean of the College of Education at the University, is a member of the SCORS steering Committee and is frequently in touch with us and other members of the committee. Carol had been describing her work with the young ladies to Dr. Pedersen when he extended an invitation to them.

We were fortunate that the Jasper County school district, on rather short notice, arranged for a small bus which allowed us to wend our way two hours plus across route 95 and then route 26 to Columbia.

After what the girls felt was an “all too short” visit to one of the USC’s bookstores, they had opportunities to interact with many of the members of the USC College of Education. They took a tour of the campus and even meet Pierce McNair, who is the legislative aide to Chairperson Rep. Rita Allison, chairman of the SC House Education Committee.

The girls, who had never visited USC before, were thrilled. It was so reassuring to learn about the many programs that are in place to help minorities succeed on this big campus. We learned that African American women have the highest completion rate of any group attending the University and saw an exhibit about major events that struck our country in 1968- assassinations of MLK and Robert Kennedy. Perhaps most impressive were the stories members of the Education Dept. shared with us about their own backgrounds and the many different jobs they held as they made their way to their present positions.

The Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, Dr. Hodges, offered that he and his staff would be happy to come to Jasper County to speak to our students and staff.

Not only did our girls get to know the University, but the visit gave the Jasper County School District an opportunity to showcase some of their outstanding students.

The University is looking for good students, and our students are looking for good colleges. A visit such as the one we made is more meaningful that just completing on online application or reading that application.

You may have read an article posted on the scors.org website about how colleges, very frequently, do not mine rural students, either scholastically or athletically. We are hoping our visit opened new pathways and an understanding of our students, who are fair representatives of our part of rural South Carolina.

Diamonds and Pearls and the Jasper Gents have been at this work for four years, many of the senior boys have become so competent that this year, the elementary school gave the Gents an additional group of fifth grade boys who were very troubled. The seniors did a special job with those boys and from what we can tell, had some positive impact.

We are pleased to report that next year will be our fifth year working with these two groups. This year was especially gratifying because out of the seven senior Gents, six will be off to college and one will enter the Marine Corps.

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