Monthly Archives: May 2015

Congratulations to the Class of 2015!

Over the last few days, we have been recognizing the Richland One Class of 2015, a class that has set a new district scholarship record of more than $66.9 million. I have had the honor and pleasure of congratulating these proud graduates and shaking their hands as they walked across the stage to receive their diplomas.

Throughout the commencement exercises, the class valedictorians and salutatorians gave thoughtful, moving and humorous reflections on their high school experiences. Their principals and other speakers also shared motivating words about the future and how the graduates can make a difference in the world.

This graduating class has much to be proud of and even more to anticipate and achieve in the years ahead. We are confident that our newest Richland One alumni will do well in the next phase of their lives.

While I congratulate the graduates and wish them well, I also want to congratulate their parents and guardians. Thank you for partnering with Richland One as we all worked together in preparing your sons and daughters for this milestone and laying the foundation for the other milestones to come in their lives.  

 Again, congratulations to the Class of 2015!

Preparing Our Students for Careers and College

There is much discussion and deliberation across the country about efforts to ensure that students are prepared for careers and college. Today, it is not an either/or proposition; our students need to be prepared for both.

In Richland One, we are committed to this opportunity and responsibility on behalf of our students. We recently recognized over 160 Career and Technical Education (CATE) completers at Heyward Career and Technology Center.

“What is a completer?” you may ask. A completer is a student who took all of the courses in a particular pathway in the various areas that Richland One offers. Those areas include automotive and diesel technologies, information technology, sports medicine and computer-assisted design or CAD, just to name a few. As completers, students have gained more in-depth knowledge and skills in these particular areas of interest. By doing this, these students will be much more advanced for their future career or college experiences.

At the end of the academic year, Richland One will have over 300 completers, including those students who went through the CATE programs at their home high schools. Congratulations to these career- and college-ready students on their accomplishments. Your future starts now!

Yes, We Can!

Yesterday evening I had the opportunity to attend Celebration 2015, where we honored our Teachers of the Year and Classified Employees of the Year from schools and administrative sites throughout the district, along with employees who are retiring this year after many years of dedicated service.

I must say that it was a very special evening indeed. It brought laughter, tears, excitement, joy and pride as we recognized work and jobs well done. Each of the honorees approached the stage proud to be a part of the Richland One family. The theme for the evening was “Yes, We Can!

Congratulations to Jennifer Wise of Hand Middle School, who was named Richland One’s 2015-2016 Teacher of the Year, and Jennifer Helmly of Brennen Elementary School, the district’s 2015-2016 Classified Employee of the Year. They represent our outstanding team of employees district-wide and will be excellent ambassadors for Richland One.

I want to say to all of the Teacher of the Year honorees that we appreciate the work you do in educating, nurturing and inspiring the 24,000 students we serve. You have been recognized by your colleagues as exemplifying the best of our profession. More importantly, you are leaders of leaders positively impacting the lives of children.

To our Classified Employees of the Year, I am equally proud of your contributions. Regardless of your positions or job titles, individually and collectively you play a vital role in supporting teaching and learning in Richland One. Without you, we would not be complete in our service to our schools and the community. 

Finally, to our 132 soon-to-be retirees, you are loved and you will be missed, but know that we are a much better organization because of your service and contribution. This is especially true for those employees who were recognized last night for giving 40 or more years of service to Richland One! We look forward to having you come back to visit, volunteer or just ride by and reflect from time to time. This time it will be up to you what you do next.

Again, it was a great evening of recognition and celebration. Yes, we can do what it takes to help our students achieve their potential and dreams because of dynamic employees like the ones we honored at Celebration 2015.

It Takes A Village

It Takes A Village

Providing our students with the knowledge, skills and support they need to succeed inside and outside the classroom truly takes a village. In Richland One, our school volunteers are very important members of that village.

Yesterday, I was honored to help recognize some of the district’s more than 4,500 volunteers for their outstanding service at the annual Superintendent’s School Improvement Council, Volunteer and Partner Recognition Program. In the past year, Richland One volunteers gave more than 100,000 hours of service to our schools. If a monetary value were attached to those many hours, it would be $2.2 million. One word: Wow!

Our volunteers come from all walks of life – college students, business executives, members of the faith-based community and retirees like Mrs. Calvernetta Williams, our 2015 High School Volunteer of the Year. After 41 years of teaching, Mrs. Williams retired but continued her service to the district as a substitute teacher. While filling in for a C.A. Johnson High School teacher who was on maternity leave earlier this school year, she reached her maximum pay limit to receive her retirement and had to stop substitute teaching. However, because she wanted to make sure the students were in good hands, Mrs. Williams chose to volunteer her service for more than a month for no pay.

Along with Mrs. Williams and our School Improvement Council chairpersons, other honorees recognized during the program were:

  • Elementary School Volunteer of the Year – Keith Kennedy (Carver-Lyon Elementary School)
  • Middle School Volunteer of the Year – Ruth Smyrl (Hand Middle School)
  • Special Schools and Centers Volunteer of the Year – Sharon Ruley (Richland One Adult Education)
  • Elementary School Partner of the Year – Shandon Baptist Church (Meadowfield Elementary School)
  • Middle School Partner of the Year – Achieve Columbia (Hand Middle School)
  • High School Partner of the Year – Cummins Atlantic (Heyward Career and Technology Center)
  • Superintendent’s Partner of the Year – City of Columbia/Drew Wellness Center (Elementary Water Safety and Swim Lessons Program)

Thank you to all of our volunteers. We couldn’t do it without you!

Gates Millennium Scholars

Each year the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awards scholarships to 1,000 students across the country. These highly coveted scholarships pay the entire cost of the students’ college education, including graduate school.

We are proud that four Richland One students have been selected to receive this prestigious scholarship. Congratulations to our 2015 Gates Millennium Scholars: Shacoria Anderson of Lower Richland High School; Micah Crumpton of W.J. Keenan High School; Marcas Smith of A.C. Flora High School; and Linda Taylor of Eau Claire High School. Richland One has more Gates Millennium Scholars this year than any other district in the state.

The goal of the Gates Millennium Scholars Program is to provide an opportunity for outstanding minority students with significant financial need to attend college. Applicants must have a 3.3 or higher GPA (grade point average) and have demonstrated superb academic achievement, leadership abilities and extracurricular community service activities.

We are extremely proud and excited for all of our Gates Millennium Scholars because we know that the opportunity to go to college through graduate school at no cost will make a tremendous difference in the lives of these outstanding students and their families.