On Wednesday, August 8, SAM's Executive Director, John Stockwell received the Champions for Public Education Award during the Spartanburg District Two School Board meeting. It was presented by Travis Sloan, Region 14 Director for the South Carolina School Boards Association. Sloan also serves Vice Chair of the Spartanburg School District One School Board.
"The Spartanburg Academic Movement exists to make a difference for the children of Spartanburg County and is a true Champion for Education," Sloan said during his presentation. "On behalf of the South Carolina School Boards Association, I want you to know how much your efforts are appreciated. You are making a difference in the lives of Spartanburg county students and families!"
Recognition for a job well done and the quality of an effort in progress is indeed an honor. When an award is received that represents a county-wide effort, the privilege goes deeper than the shine reflecting, in this case, from a beautiful palmetto tree.
First, SAM was unanimously nominated for the award by the school boards of Spartanburg's seven different school districts. The significance of that level of support is extremely important to the SAM board and staff who believe strongly that the only way to make a difference is by working together for the children of our county and their futures. The partnership we have with the seven school districts is key to the impact of our work. We know that few counties have the strength of that level of commitment from the leaders of districts serving unique communities, willing to be collaborative and competitive in support of what's best for the children and families they serve. This award recognizes that commitment as well.
Secondly, that the award is one presented by the South Carolina Association of School Boards, representing 81 school boards across the state of South Carolina is incredible. SAM values the tremendous effort and dedication of school board trustees. The vast majority of those trustees are elected by their local communities. The support not just of our community, but the extended community of leaders across SC is extremely meaningful.
An honor such as this also helps to remind others that the work continues. Being a champion for public education is not a one-and-done act. It is a commitment for the long haul - a dedication we share with a strong and growing network in our State and beyond it's borders.
This network building was exemplified by a gathering of 22 educational and community leaders on Wednesday, August 29. They came to SAM to hear about how the long-term approach is being supported by the community as a whole and how it works. They heard about SAM's evolution and how the @StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network has driven impact efforts. They learned about the key learning stages we track through core indicators, the formation and tasks of Collaborative Action Networks (CANS), and the pre-birth through post-secondary data pipeline SAM engages across its work. They were also given an overview of where SAM stands now, with the launch of the Continuous Improvement Institute to strengthen educational and cross-sector interventions to improve student success.
When SAM's visitors came through the door, they were welcomed by the shining Palmetto Tree, then heard the story of how Champions for Public Education grow - from a deep commitment to making what works for children the focus of partners across the community, for the long-haul work that needs to be done - so evident in Spartanburg County.