Education + Workforce
Piedmont Technical College became the eighth of the 16-member institution in the South Carolina Technical Education System when it was established in 1966 to serve Laurens, Abbeville, Edgefield, Greenwood, McCormick, Newberry and Saluda counties. Those seven counties represent the largest geographic area served by any technical college in the state. Piedmont’s main campus is located on a 65-acre plot on Emerald Road in Greenwood. The Laurens County Center of Piedmont Tech moved to the Laurens County Higher Education Center on Medical Ridge Road in Clinton in 2002 after more than 11 years at their East Main Street location in Laurens.
The 39,000 square-foot facility serves Piedmont Technical College students who reside in Laurens County and provides a home to Laurens County Adult Education (Lifelong Learning - School Districts 55 and 56).
Students have the opportunity to take credit or non-credit courses in 1) a traditional classroom setting, 2) via satellite, or 3) two-way video. Student services at the Laurens Campus include advising, financial aid, placement testing, career counseling, registration, and library services. Students may also pay fees and buy books at the Laurens Campus.
Student IDs and PTC parking stickers are available free of charge in the LCHEC library.
The Center for Advanced Manufacturing, part of PTC's Laurens County Campus is located along the I-385 corridor and is within easy driving distance of industrial and business sites. The Center has been established to support the manufacturing sector's growing training needs in the region.
The Center for Advanced Manufacturing came about thanks to a partnership between Piedmont Technical College, the PTC Foundation, county and city governments, Laurens County Economic Development Corporation and local industry. The facility was initially planned to provide readySC, a division of the South Carolina Technical College System, with a dedicated space to meet ZF Group’s initial training needs in collaboration with PTC industrial faculty. However, industry leaders throughout the county saw the center’s potential to benefit their operations.
The CAM houses CNC, CMM, Welding and Mechatronics labs and classrooms which will benefit industry and the residents of Laurens County for years to come by providing the local workforce with a means for upgrading their work skills with relevant technology-based training.
The University of South Carolina Laurens Location satellite operations began in 1983 with classes offered at the local junior high school. Since that time, the school has relocated to the Oaks Shopping Center at 507 N. Harper Street, Laurens, SC—a state of the art facility. USC Union Laurens Location is especially attractive to high school graduates who are residents of Laurens County to attend tuition free through the Laurens County Future Scholarship Program. Adult students are excited to return to complete their degree, to take classes their careers require or to enhance their knowledge of various academic subjects. Dual enrollment classes for high school junior and seniors give the opportunity for these students to begin their college coursework at a reduced fee before graduation. A variety of classes are offered which can be applied to their associate or baccalaureate degree programs. Because this campus is supported by the entire university system and provides USC quality throughout, students are able to take advantage of resources and facilities at all of the other USC campuses. The Laurens campus offers two associate degrees and approximately 15 other bachelor’s degrees including a newly established partnership to offer a Bachelor of Science in Nursing with USC Aiken. The bachelor’s degrees are through Palmetto College where the student is able to take classes locally face to face, through beaming from one campus to another, and on-line. The advantages of attending USC Union Laurens Location are: small class sizes; classes to suit every schedule and lifestyle; scholarships and financial aid available; courses transfer to any college in South Carolina; most affordable university in the upstate. For more information, call 864-681-1456.
Presbyterian College is a four-year, private, co-educational college accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. A highly selective national liberal arts college, PC is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA) and has been recognized in national publications and in the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll as a college that “gets it right” based on students’ and graduates’ contributions to society.
Founded in 1880 as Clinton College, PC is located on 240 acres in Clinton, S.C. In addition to winning prestigious national and international scholarships, including a Rhodes Scholar, Rotary Scholars, Pew Fellows and a National Science Foundation Fellowship, PC graduates are servant leaders in their careers, their communities and their churches. Small classes are taught by a dedicated faculty — the vast majority of whom hold their terminal degrees. Six faculty members have been honored as South Carolina’s Professor of the Year — the most of any college or university in the state.
The Blue Hose athletics program is a member of the Big South Conference and competes in NCAA Division I with 19 varsity sports for men and women.
The Presbyterian College School of Pharmacy opened on August 16, 2010 with its inaugural class of nearly 80 students. The school offers Pharm.D. Degrees and is located in the City of Clinton, SC.
Laurens Academy is a beautiful 40 acre school located on Highway 49, one mile off I-385. The location makes it convenient to the families that are served from Laurens, Clinton, and surrounding counties. The school began in the fall of 1994, with a mission to educate the whole child in a Christian environment. Laurens Academy offers a K4-12th grade college preparatory curriculum in a nondenominational Christian environment and is accredited by the South Carolina Independent School Association (SCISA) and AdvancEd/SACS, a worldwide accrediting agency. Visual and choral arts, foreign language, a computer lab, physical education, dual enrollment (high school/college credit) courses through the University of South Carolina, and a competitive and successful athletic program are just a few of the things offered at Laurens Academy. Many of the LA alumni have returned to or remained in Laurens County after college graduation to become business owners and leaders in our community.
The Thornwell Charter School Planning Committee (TCSPC) began formal meetings in the summer of 2017, but the idea of utilizing the campus and serving the Upstate Area of South Carolina on the Thornwell Campus has been discussed since the original Thornwell School closed in 2007.
Laurens County School District 56 serves the City of Clinton and southern Laurens County, under the leadership of Superintendent, Dr. David O’Shields. Dr. O’Shields, with his much loved, humorous personality, is a Laurens County native, graduating from Clinton High School in 1976. He has a long history of caring about District 56 and the people impacted daily. This district serves approximately 3,069 students in three elementary schools and two secondary schools, as well as a Child Development Center for grades preK-4K. All of the district’s schools are located in Clinton with the exception of Joanna-Woodson Elementary in the Joanna community and are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Approximately 400 employees work in the district, and more than half of the teachers, proudly, hold advanced degrees.
District 56 strives to embrace the principles on which they stand as they relate to the students, staff and community. They envision an environment where students become ethical and productive citizens, achieving excellence, embracing innovations, and forging new traditions.
Clinton High School, newly built in 2010, offers advanced placement courses where students may earn college credit through a cooperative agreement with Presbyterian College. Computer-assisted instruction is offered in all schools. A full complement of extracurricular activities is provided in a variety of award-winning programs. District 56 has both a nationally recognized JROTC program and National Beta Club. They offer strong programs for the academically gifted, services for students with disabilities, outdoor environmental labs, National Wildlife Federation Schoolyard Habitats®, a National Honor Society, state-recognized service learning labs and a strong band program.
The district’s Wilder Stadium will undergo a $1.7 million renovation in 2019. This stadium has celebrated Friday night football for many years and is the proud home of the Red Devils.
Laurens County School District (LCSD) 55 serves approximately 6,000 students from diverse backgrounds from preschool through twelfth grade. The staff of 875 teachers and support personnel at Laurens County School District 55 is devoted to developing the full potential of every child. Dr. Ameca Thomas, named Superintendent in January 2020, is the seventh Superintendent in 53 years and the first female superintendent in that history. Dr. Thomas has many years experience in education at LCSD 55. She was a teacher, assistant principal, and principal in the district before moving to the district office, where she served most recently as Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning.
LCSD 55 was recently named a District of Distinction and is one of only 45 districts in the nation to be selected for the designation. Districts of Distinction is a national recognition program created to honor school districts that demonstrate the true meaning of excellence in education. Districts selected to receive the award have developed exemplary programs to support students in their education and well beyond the classroom. District Administration magazine selected LCSD 55 as a District of Distinction for promoting and developing soft skills through their Ladies and Gentlemen’s Clubs. In addition, the National PTA selected Laurens Middle School (LMS) as a National PTA School of Excellence (one of only two schools in South Carolina to receive the honor) and LMS was one of three finalists nationwide for the prestigious Phoebe Apperson Hearst award from the National PTA.
The school district is recognized for its recent improvements in innovative instructional practices and movement towards ensuring that each student receives personalized instruction according to his or her needs. The small size and rural setting of the district allow for close relationships and a sense of belonging for students and staff. The district includes six unique community based elementary schools, four middle schools, and one high school where all students come together as a community for their capstone experiences. The district strives to maintain small class sizes that favor optimal participation, personal development, and belonging. Each child builds a core body of knowledge, develops key skills, and receives support in their social emotional development.
The two local school districts continue a strong rivalry between the Clinton Red Devils and the Laurens Raiders. Each time these schools share a field, they aim for victory, however, all the other games of the year they wish their small town rivalry team success.
The Laurens County Library System (lcpl) operates two libraries for the County. The headquarters facility is located on a main road through Laurens where many historic houses stand and residents can be found daily walking their dogs or pushing their strollers, 1017 West Main Street. This 23,000-square-foot library, opened in 1989, houses a large public meeting room that accommodates 80, a smaller conference room and several study and tutoring rooms and is the proud home of an extensive local history and genealogy collection. Annually, the Stuffed Animal Sleepover is a big hit for the local children. The Library partners with Laurens County First Steps where they invite children to the library to drop off a favorite stuffed animal to spend the night with trained library staff getting them ready for bed, hosting story time, and being tucked in. The next morning the children are invited back for a special story time with their stuffed animals. Participants enjoy breakfast snacks and a presentation of pictures of the previous night’s mischief.
A second location can be found in Clinton on Jacobs Highway, centrally located in the community for easy accessibility. Though smaller in area, this 8,200-square-foot facility is an important partner in the system and houses a big part of the more than 110,000 books, the two libraries offer. Both libraries offer various activities like “Toddler Academy & Mother Goose Story Time” where toddlers prepare for school learning narratives skills, vocabulary, and listening skills – all while having fun at the library.
The bookmobile is one of the library’s prize possessions and can often be seen riding the streets of Laurens County visiting nearly 50 homes and communities providing mobile library services to several hundred patrons. For more information about the Laurens County Library System visit www.lcpl.org.
The privately-funded Laurens County Future Scholarship (LCFS) program was established in the Fall of 2015, to provide recent high school graduates with a tuition-free path to complete two years of technical training, or the first half of a bachelor's degree. Modeled on successful programs from around the United States, the Laurens County Future Scholarship is a last-pay scholarship, covering only the remainder of tuition and required fees after all State and Federal financial aid is applied. This program was created to insure all Laurens County residents have the opportunity for the bright future they deserve, as the County continues to strengthen the available workforce.