Q: Tell us how you chose a career in education?
A: “As a college student, I majored in English because my initial plan was to attend law school after I earned my bachelor’s degree. I thought that an English degree would provide me with a solid foundation in communications which, in turn, would be an asset for that career path. However, as I advanced in my studies, I became more interested in pursuing education as a career. I saw how much my favorite professors loved what they were doing in the classroom, and I found myself wanting to do the same. Like them, I loved learning, and the prospect of sharing that love with students proved so enticing that I changed my mind about the future. My educational career path was solidified when I served as a graduate teaching assistant for two years during my master’s studies. I provided instruction to two sections of freshman composition each semester and quickly realized that I wanted to continue in education. Upon graduation, I worked for a year as a Visiting Instructor of English at Clemson University and for three years as an Instructor of English at Presbyterian College. I took a year off from work to pursue my South Carolina teaching credential and then entered the public school setting, where I have been for the last 34 years. Like many individuals my age, I am a first-generation college graduate, and I have benefitted so much from the opportunities that education provided me. I am glad that I chose this path to serve others through education and hope that along the way, I have helped students as my teachers helped me.”
Q: Share a little about your experience in our education administration programs?
A: “I earned Master of Education and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Education Administration from the University of South Carolina, and I am proud of both of these degrees! When I was completing my graduate work in educational leadership, the virtual learning environment was not as fully developed as it is today. Consequently, since I live near the coast, I spent many hours and drove many miles commuting to the Columbia campus. Though the university is large, I always found that my professors were available to meet with me to discuss projects, assignments, and ultimately provide me with valuable feedback during my dissertation work.”
Q: How did these programs prepare you for your current role?
A: “I believe that the educational leadership programs equipped me with the essential understandings I needed to be a successful school administrator. While all of my coursework provided me with benefits, the courses that I have drawn upon the most focused on curriculum, educational law, leadership, organizational change and data analysis. These five areas remain today at the heart of my work as a public school administrator.”
Q: What does it mean for you and your district to be honored in this way?
A: “To be recognized as the South Carolina Association of School Administrators’ 2024 Superintendent of the Year is a tremendous honor for me. However, I am fully aware of the fact that any successes attributed to me occurred as a result of the collaborative efforts of our leadership team and all the teachers and support staff members who work with us on a daily basis to serve the students and families of Horry County Schools. This year has been a special year in that the 2024 South Carolina Teacher of the Year, Renee Atkinson, is also from our school district. We are excited about both of these honors and glad to bring these recognitions to our school district.”
Q: Is there anything else you would like to share with your fellow alumni?
A: “Like my fellow alumni, I am proud of the degrees I earned from the University of South Carolina, and I am grateful for the many professional relationships I developed as a result of my studies at the university.”