Southside Middle School (SSMS) is one of four middle schools located in Florence, South Carolina and currently services a total of 827 total seventh and eighth grade students. Southside is a Title I School, and currently, all students receive free lunch, provided by a waiver. SSMS blurs the lines between rural and suburban descriptors in its unique location, being outside of the city limits, yet nestled inside a neighborhood. The school has been designated a Distinguished Arts Program (DAP) since 2009, and an Arts in Basic Curriculum school since 2007. Currently, SSMS serves as the middle school magnet school of the arts in Florence County and feeds directly into South Florence High School, which was recently named the arts magnet high school for Florence District One.
The SSMS Fine Arts and Technology Academy, established in 2012, offers honors-level courses in Band, Chorus, Creative Writing, Dance, Fundamentals of Computer, Guitar, Media Arts, Orchestra, Photography, Piano, Theater and Visual Arts. Potential students must apply and interview in order to be considered for admission, which allows out of zone students the opportunity to attend as well. Non academy students are eligible to take the same courses on a non honors, introductory level. Gifted and Talented programs are offered in both ELA and Math. Southside Middle School has a diverse faculty with 58.6% having advanced degrees. Six faculty members are National Board Certified Teachers, three of whom serve in the Fine Arts Department.
It is the school’s vision to use the arts as a vehicle for learning. The mission statement of SSMS is “Cultivating Today’s Learners to be Tomorrow’s Leaders!” which is paired with the school’s core belief that the responsibility of educators is,“To mold young minds to be creative, knowledgeable, productive citizens of good character in an ever-changing, challenging world.”