Beth Gets Her Black Belt

So we don't have any ninjas in the office, but congratulations are definitely in order! Beth Thompson, Director of Collaborative Action Networks, just received her Lean Six Sigma Black Belt certification at our last Board of Directors meeting. The certification was presented to her by BMW associates Mark Fendley and Eric Hayler following her final project presentation.

Pictured from left to right: Mark Fendley, Beth Thompson, Eric Hayler

Pictured from left to right: Mark Fendley, Beth Thompson, Eric Hayler

In order to receive her Black Belt certification, Beth had to successfully complete 5 weeks of classroom training and demonstrate appropriate use of the Six Sigma method throughout her project.  The Six Sigma Continuous Improvement process provides a methodology and set of tools to move the needle on SAM's indicators of academic success.  Beth’s project focused on improving kindergarten readiness outcomes by organizing the Kindergarten Success Collaborative Action Network (“KSCAN”) and facilitating the group’s work through the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control) process she learned during her training.  The KSCAN has began collectively implementing actions that will improve outcomes for our earliest learners. 

With Six Sigma, all Collaborative Action Networks are able to have efficient and effective meetings and make data driven decisions every step of the way. In order to improve cradle to career outcomes for students in Spartanburg County, it is important to understand the factors already contributing to the success of students and inhibiting success for others. Continuous improvement is at the heart of what SAM is about, and Beth's success facilitating the KSCAN using the Six Sigma methodology is proof that it works. 

BMW will welcome a second staff member, Dr. Glen Carson, to their Six Sigma Black Belt training program in September. We are forever grateful for BMW’s investment in the continuous improvement work of SAM.  

Congratulations again to Beth for her hard work and wonderful presentation, and best of luck to Glen as he starts his training next month. 

Bank of America Supports Spartanburg Academic Movement

Spartanburg Market President Scott Mitchell of Bank of America (right) presented the $10,000 check to SAM’s Executive Director (left) at the SAM office.

Spartanburg Market President Scott Mitchell of Bank of America (right) presented the $10,000 check to SAM’s Executive Director (left) at the SAM office.

Bank of America Charitable Foundation presented Spartanburg Academic Movement (SAM), with a $10,000 check recently to support its annual campaign. The donation will support county-wide efforts to enhance educational achievement for every child, cradle to career.

Spartanburg Market President Scott Mitchell of Bank of America delivered the check to SAM’s Executive Director John Stockwell, at the SAM office.

The $10,000 grant will help support the work of SAM’s “collaborative action networks,” engaging education practitioners and leaders across the County focused on the use of data to improve learning from kindergarten readiness through post-secondary completion.

“Continuing support from Bank of America has been crucial to the launch of SAM’s collaborative action networks, which, in turn, are crucial to the goals of SAM,” according to Dr.  Stockwell.

For more information on supporting education through SAM, call (864) 573-5804 or browse 

SAM Welcomes Seven New Board Members and Director of Data Management

Spartanburg Academic Movement welcomed seven new members to our Board of Trustees at our annual meeting on August 19, 2015.

The newly elected Board Members are Melvin Brewton (School District 4 School Board & Load Logistics Manager, Walmart Southeast Regional Operational Center), Debra Clements (Sr. VP, Sr. General Counsel & Corporate Secretary, Milliken & Company), Henry Giles (President, Spartanburg Community College), Susanne Hite (Director of Marketing and Communications, AFL), John Miller (President & CEO, Denny’s), Kathy Sinclair (VP, Human Resources, SRHS) and Alonzo Thompson (Police Chief, City of Spartanburg).

Joining ten other community leaders who have served on the Board since SAMs launch in 2012, new members bring unique leadership skills and commitment to the collective impact work of SAM. Their passion for improving outcomes for Spartanburg County students is fundamental to the culture shift needed to support academic achievement from cradle to career.

Last month, we increased our staff capacity with the addition of Blake Baldwin as Director of Data Management.  His expertise will allow SAM to effectively administer the data gathered to measure school readiness, third grade reading, eighth grade math, high school graduation and college and career readiness. Blake is a recent graduate of Furman University with a bachelor’s degree in economics and a minor in Chinese. 

SAM is hiring!


We are excited to announce we are hiring a Director of Collaborative Action Networks.

SAM’s Director of Collaborative Action Networks oversees all collective impact undertaken by SAM, and supervises the staff and volunteers involved in these efforts. The Director facilitates, coaches, and provides technical assistance in support of the work of SAM’s Collaborative Action Networks. These Networks consist of cross-sector partners focused on improving specific targeted academic achievement outcomes on multiple stages of learning, county-wide, cradle to career.

At present, one Network is active: The School Readiness Collaborative Action Network; and three others are to be formed in the immediate future:

  1. Third Grade Reading/Math Network 
  2. High School Readiness Network 
  3. Career/ Workforce Network.

One or two additional Networks will be formed by the end of the Director’s first year of employment. 


The Director leads in the formation of SAM’s Collaborative Action Networks; arranges and coordinates their activities; coaches, facilitates, and provides data as needed; and builds networks’ internal capacity to work effectively on the improvement of action planning and outcomes. Specifically, the Director will: 

  • Provide tools, methods, training as appropriate to build group capacity in support of continuous quality improvement.
  • Support the development of trust and effective working relationships within networks, coaching through conflict resolution and addressing performance and participation issues.
  • Identify and implement organizational development opportunities.
  • Support staff and volunteers as needed
  • Assist in building and improving data collection systems and engage all Network members in understanding and engaging data in their work. 


  • Bachelor’s degree required/graduate degree preferred, and at least five years of experience engaged in facilitation and data analysis.
  • At least three years of supervisory experience at the staff level.
  • Proficiency in all Microsoft Office products.
  • Excellent written communication skills and proven public speaking experience required.
  • Flexibility, independence, critical thinking, and decision making skills. 
  • Commitment to working in team settings and an understanding of internal and external customers, including staff and volunteer management.
  • Ability to exercise tact and good judgment.
  • Ability to compile information and prepare reports.
  • Effective time manager, ability to manage responsibilities independently and exercise initiative, and ability to manage multiple tasks simultaneously. 

Applications/nominations will be reviewed beginning July 14th and continue until the position is filled. Employment will begin in August or as soon thereafter as possible. 

Download the full job posting >