Monthly Archives: September 2016

Precious Passengers

At the beginning of each school year, I meet with various groups – new teachers, cafeteria staff and the like. This provides an opportunity to show my appreciation for their contributions to the district as well as to receive feedback from valued employees.

This year, while meeting with our student transportation staff, I was offered an invitation to “take off the tie, roll up my sleeves and ride a bus with students!” I accepted the offer. Friday afternoon, I rode the afternoon route of Bus 346 with “Mr. C,” as the students call him.

Mr. C has been a bus driver for Richland One since 2008. This year, his elementary run is at Burton-Pack Elementary School. As students boarded the bus, he called them by name and walked them up and down the aisle as they entered. He and the students and I exchanged greetings and brief conversations. I got welcoming and puzzled looks as well, given I was “new” and they knew Mr. C.

By the time we left school for their trip home, students invited me to sit with them, as I was in someone’s assigned seat. I was pleased to be invited to join students in the seat across the aisle. I must say, even on a Friday afternoon, elementary students have a lot of energy! That said, I heard stories of brothers and sisters, favorite teachers, class activities and tomorrow’s football games.

On the ride to and from school, Mr. C shared his thoughts about transportation and Richland One. I thank him for that. Furthermore, I say thank you to all of our bus drivers and the entire Student Transportation Services department for what they do on a daily basis. They are the first and last faces of Richland One for many of our students. They navigate the roads, weather and traffic with precious passengers – our students. We salute you all.

Partners in Education

This week, we held a groundbreaking ceremony to kick off construction on an exercise fitness trail at Burton-Pack Elementary School. The project is led and coordinated by the Columbia chapter of The Links, Inc., which has been a Burton-Pack school partner since 2014. Three local construction companies – Brownstone Construction, Contract Construction and Orion Construction – are donating the labor and materials.

When completed in November, the exercise fitness trail will include several exercise stations with signs that give step-by-step instructions on various physical activities, such as jumping jacks or sit-ups. The exercise fitness trail also will feature benches and student gardens.

We know that engaging in regular physical activity has many benefits for students, including helping to improve their academic performance and their overall wellness. We extend our thanks to The Links and to the three construction companies for working together and in partnership with the school and the district to make the exercise fitness trail a reality. It will be a point of pride for Burton-Pack and the entire Belvedere community. We also thank Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin for his assistance and support of the project.

We are fortunate to have many school and district partners in Richland One – from service organizations like The Links, to the City of Columbia, Richland County and other governmental entities, to faith-based, higher education and business partners. These partnerships provide additional resources, services and competitive advantages for our students.

If your business or organization would like to be a school or district partner, please contact Dr. Traci Cooper in our Strategic Partnerships Office at 231-6842 or

I’d also like to wish everyone a very safe and enjoyable Labor Day weekend. Schools and offices will be closed Monday, September 5, and regular schedules will resume Tuesday, September 6.