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 Replicates National Model

Beginning in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky six years ago, more than 300 leaders of local organizations decided to focus on a region-wide approach to improving student achievement. They named their collaboration “StriveTogether … Every Child, Cradle to Career.”

Rather than adding services or programs, “Strive” built upon existing assets. Its impact came from a shared commitment to data-defined targets of academic achievement at every level. Partnership agreements were signed by educators, corporate leaders, foundations, governments, and faith communities.

“Strive” Partners focused their attention on a single set of goals and shared performance indicators. They discussed progress, learned from each other, and aligned efforts to achieve their goals.

Managed by a board and a small staff, “Strive” supported “collaborative action networks” of educators and partners across sectors, pursuing specific performance targets.

Six years later, “Strive” is achieving what it has been measuring, including a 9% rise in kindergarten readiness, an 11% increase in high school graduation, and a 10% increase in college enrollment.

Recently, the “Strive” model has been adopted by other communities across the country ( Early leaders include Milwaukee, Portland, Twin Cities, Dayton, Dallas, Albuquerque, and a few others. 

At present, there are over 75 “Strive Together” network member communities. Spartanburg County is among the early affiliates. SAM recently received certification as an “emerging” cradle to career partnership.