Candidates Vie to Shape Educational Destiny: Spartanburg School District Four School Board Elections Promise Visionary Leadership for Community’s Future

Stephen Brown

Stephen Brown has officially announced his candidacy for a position on the Spartanburg School District Four Board, driven by a vision of educational inclusivity and equity. Brown’s motivation stems from his unwavering belief that “education is a pathway out of poverty,” and he is committed to providing strong representation for African-American students and families district-wide.

Diverse Representation for Educational Leadership

Brown’s campaign message resonates with the importance of diverse representation on the school board. He firmly believes that children and families should connect with the leadership and decisions that influence their educational journeys. “We need a strong African American presence on the board so children and families throughout the district can have representation they can relate to,” emphasizes Brown.

Championing Special Education

Among Brown’s primary objectives, if elected, is the advocacy for improved services for students with special needs. He shines a light on an issue he perceives as often overlooked, stating, “It appears students with special needs are often overlooked.” Brown underscores the necessity for a comprehensive and supportive approach to special education, ensuring every student’s needs are addressed effectively.

Leadership Experience and Community Involvement

Brown’s qualifications encompass his leadership roles within the church and his active participation in community service. He contends that these roles have equipped him with valuable collaborative skills, enabling him to contribute insights from diverse perspectives. Brown firmly believes that this diversity of viewpoints is integral to effective decision-making that truly serves the needs of all students.

Shaping Successful Futures through Education

In his closing statement, Brown underscores the pivotal role of the education system in shaping prosperous futures for all students. His campaign is dedicated to fostering an environment where every student is equipped with the tools and resources necessary to reach their full potential.

Reflecting Diversity, Meeting Needs

Brown’s campaign stands as a reminder of education’s transformative power and the essential requirement for representation that mirrors the diversity and needs of every student and family within the community. His candidacy seeks to ensure that every child’s voice is heard and their education is tailored to their unique journey.

Nathan Craig

Nathan Craig’s commitment to serving students, staff, and the community of Spartanburg School District 4 is unwavering. His motivation to run for the school board is rooted in a profound desire to prioritize student success and empower all stakeholders within the district. Craig’s campaign centers on a comprehensive and holistic approach to governance that fosters an environment where every facet of education flourishes.

Priorities and Qualifications

If elected, Craig’s priorities are clear and direct: to champion policies that empower students, staff, and the broader community. Drawing from 14 years of experience as a teacher, coach, and administrator within the public school system, Craig brings a wealth of knowledge to the table. His deep ties to the community as a product of District 4 underscore his commitment to fostering structured learning environments that set high expectations for all students.

Community Enrichment and Focus on Vocational Training

Craig’s dedication to community enrichment is exemplified through his role as a founding member of Team Heart and Soul. His love for District 4 drives his ambition to see the district continue supporting structured learning environments and prioritizing vocational training opportunities.

Essential Attributes and Board Responsibilities

For Craig, integrity and thoughtful leadership are paramount attributes for school board members. He envisions the primary role of the board as shaping policies, backing district leadership choices, and serving as community representatives.

Experience and Unity-Centered Approach

What differentiates Craig from other candidates is his extensive experience spanning multiple levels of the District 4 school system and his broader exposure to other districts. His commitment to unity and consensus aligns with his willingness to support board decisions even if they don’t align with his personal vote.

Optimism for Growth and Student-Centric Concerns

With the District 4 school system on the cusp of growth, Craig is cautiously optimistic. He aims to ensure that this growth is managed thoughtfully, prioritizing student success at every turn.

Nathan Craig’s candidacy for the Spartanburg School District 4 Board is rooted in a deep passion for fostering enriched learning environments, empowering stakeholders, and ensuring student success remains at the forefront of decision-making.

Bobby Edwards

Bobby Edwards, a lifelong educator with a strong commitment to the community, is running for the Board of Education in District 4. With a focus on student success and equitable education, Edwards brings a wealth of experience and fresh perspectives to the table.

Priorities for Progress

If elected, Edwards aims to enhance educational opportunities for all students. He envisions a curriculum that nurtures the whole student and emphasizes practical skills, utilizing the local career center effectively. Improving employee morale, ensuring fairness for all, and upholding accountability are high on his agenda.

A Heart for Service

Edwards’ motivation stems from his desire to serve students, parents, and staff within the district. With a background as a teacher for 16 years and over a decade as an administrator, Edwards understands the importance of positive relationships in education.

Credentials and Involvements

Edwards’ extensive involvement in the community includes leadership roles in the Antioch Baptist Church, Boy Scouts, and former Enoree Fire Department. His real-world classroom and administrative experiences set him apart from other candidates, enabling him to bring practical insights to the board.

Campaign and Endorsements

Running independently, Edwards is backed by his son-in-law’s campaign support. He hasn’t received any endorsements or donations from groups or individuals, focusing on a grassroots approach with flyers, signs, and word-of-mouth outreach.

Board Governance and Vision

Edwards envisions a board that upholds courtesy, approachability, and intelligence. He emphasizes the need for deep care about students, comprehensive thinking, and well-researched decisions. He highlights the board’s duty to manage finances, represent citizens’ interests, and oversee district initiatives.

Student-Centered Approaches

Edwards believes in measuring student achievement through progression, not just standardized test scores. His ideas include utilizing learning centers to address achievement gaps exacerbated by COVID-19. He aims to enhance career and technical education opportunities, preparing students for various paths including military service.

Balancing Quality and Responsibility

With a keen eye on fiscal responsibility, Edwards seeks to balance quality education with local taxpayers’ concerns. He advocates for a manageable budget, stewarding funds effectively and avoiding wasteful spending.

Engagement and Accountability

Edwards underlines the importance of being visible, accessible, and present in the community to communicate effectively. He emphasizes the need for the board to hold itself accountable, ensuring policies are implemented and student goals are met.

A Vision for Progress

Edwards envisions an education system focused on students’ holistic growth, equity, and fostering a safe environment for expression. He identifies challenges like class size, teacher retention, and equality that the board should address. His commitment to education, his community, and a student-centered vision make him a compelling candidate for the District 4 School Board.

Elaina Hyatt

Elaina Hyatt has announced her candidacy for a school board position driven by a profound dedication to maintaining and enhancing the reputation of District Four. Hyatt’s core objectives include upholding ethical standards while providing students with exceptional opportunities, ensuring teachers and staff feel valued, and addressing pertinent issues with the unwavering focus of “doing what is best for our children.”

Prioritizing Student Success

Hyatt’s primary focus revolves around the success of students. She firmly believes that by approaching challenges with the sole motto of “doing what is best for our children,” these challenges can be transformed into opportunities to equip students, teachers, and staff with the tools they need for success.

Education and Experience

Highlighting her extensive experience in education, Hyatt underscores her background as a District Four alumna and her impressive 16-year tenure in the field. Her educational journey has encompassed teaching roles in Spartanburg County Districts 4 and 6, as well as her current service in Laurens County School District 55. Her versatile expertise spans K-12 Special Education, Career and Technology Education, school administration, and her current role as a Special Education Coordinator. Hyatt attributes her success to the firsthand experience she has gained, complemented by her educational qualifications, including an Associate’s Degree in Marketing, a Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education, a Master’s Degree in Administration and Leadership, and a Specialist Degree in Superintendency.

A Commitment to Community

Hyatt’s commitment to community involvement is evident through her recognition as the 2022-2023 Teacher of the Year for Woodruff Elementary School. She is also an active member of the Council for Exceptional Children, further reflecting her dedication to advocating for exceptional education. Within her church community, Hyatt serves on the Personnel Committee and engages as a youth leader, children’s church teacher, and choir member. Her advocacy extends to supporting women and children affected by domestic abuse.

Elaina Hyatt’s candidacy stands as a testament to her passion for education, ethics, and community engagement. Her multifaceted experience and dedication to student success position her as a strong contender for the school board, aiming to elevate the district’s reputation and impact while providing equitable opportunities for all students.

Micha Kelley

Micha Kelley has announced her candidacy for a seat on the school board with a steadfast commitment to educational excellence and equity. Her motivation stems from the belief that “education is the foundation of a successful future,” and she is resolute in her passion for ensuring Woodruff students receive quality education, regardless of their background or circumstances. Kelley is determined to guarantee equal opportunities for Woodruff students compared to those in neighboring districts.

A Champion of Student Opportunities

Kelley’s platform revolves around providing students with diverse career paths and guiding them towards making informed decisions about their future. She prides herself on her problem-solving skills, a track record of identifying and addressing issues, and her ability to challenge conventions while maintaining a student-centered focus. Her confidence lies in her capacity to contribute to sound decision-making that aligns with the best interests of students.

Preserving Tradition, Inspiring Progress

Acknowledging District 4’s legacy of strong structure, discipline, and academic rigor, Kelley is dedicated to preserving these traditions while striving for improvement. She envisions maintaining excellence while enhancing the district’s offerings to ensure a well-rounded education for all students.

Community and Advocacy

With nearly two decades of marriage and two children attending District 4 schools, Kelley has been an active and engaged member of both the schools and the community for nearly a decade. Her involvement extends to roles such as serving on the Parent-Teacher Organizations (PTOs) at Woodruff Primary and Woodruff Elementary, as well as contributing to her Homeowner’s Association (HOA) board. 

Key Focus Areas

Should she be elected to the Board of Trustees, Kelley’s top priorities include:

– Opportunity: Ensuring all students have access to high-quality education and opportunities. This involves reducing class sizes, expanding elective options at the high school level, introducing foreign language options in middle school, and promoting extracurricular clubs like First Tee.

– Technology: Pursuing technological preparedness by offering professional development opportunities for teachers to effectively integrate technology in the classroom, bridging the gap between students and the modern technological landscape.

– Teachers: Advocating for teacher support through enhanced professional development, accessible resources, and creating a platform for teachers to contribute to decision-making through a dedicated teacher forum.

A Voice for Students and Parents

When asked why she should be elected to the school board, Kelley’s response echoes her commitment to students, teachers, and parents. She embodies a proactive and thorough approach to research and decision-making, fostering an environment where teachers feel valued and students receive the tools needed to succeed. Kelley’s determination to address critical issues, ask tough questions, and drive positive change reflects her dedication to District 4’s ongoing success.

Sandy Norman (incumbent)

Sandy Norman is running for re-election and places a spotlight on crucial attributes for effective school board service. She emphasizes Confidentiality, Integrity, Empathy, Love, and Availability as essential qualities that underpin successful governance. These principles, Norman believes, foster trust, ethical decisions, inclusive communication, and valuing of every voice.

Foundations of Trust and Governance

Norman stresses the significance of maintaining the community’s trust. Confidentiality ensures sensitive matters are managed correctly, while decisions made with integrity prioritize students’ best interests. Empathy, love, and availability contribute to an environment where diverse perspectives are valued and heard.

Board’s Vital Role and Responsibilities

Norman sees the board’s primary role as overseeing schools and representing district interests. Setting vision and goals for schools to deliver excellent education is a core focus. This differs from the superintendent’s or administration’s execution of board-defined policies.

Progress Tracking and Effective Decision-Making

Monthly reports serve as guides for the board’s decisions, enabling effective steering towards goals. Norman believes these reports offer insights into policy implementation and goal achievement.

Navigating Differences and Unity

Addressing differences with open, agenda-free communication is pivotal to effective governance, according to Norman. Acknowledging diverse viewpoints enriches decision-making.

Supporting Decisions for Unity

Norman supports the notion of standing behind decisions, even if not initially in favor, for the sake of a united board. Collaboration post-decision underscores the commitment to students and the community.

Community Involvement and Priorities

Norman’s commitment extends to accessibility and inclusivity. An open-door policy and inviting community to meetings build trust. Norman’s drive is to be a voice for students, staff, and the community, championing equal opportunities, safety, and fairness.

Differentiating Factor and Passion

Norman stands out for her willingness to ask tough questions and advocate for students and staff. Her dedication is fueled by a genuine passion for youth well-being.

As Sandy Norman seeks re-election for the District 4 School Board, her focus on key attributes and dedication to fostering an inclusive, effective governance environment distinguish her as a candidate committed to the best interests of students, staff, and the community.

Rick C. Sloan (incumbent)

Rick Sloan is vying for re-election to the Spartanburg School District Four Board. With eight years of dedicated service, he aims to continue contributing to the district’s growth and advancements.

Proven Track Record and Aspirations

Sloan’s motivation lies in his enjoyment of the past eight years of service, during which he witnessed district improvements. His primary goal is to ensure optimal education for students and support for educators and administrators. He is committed to the district’s growth and the completion of a new high school.

Focusing on District Excellence

Sloan’s vision is to make Spartanburg District Four one of the best in the state, highlighting its strengths in education quality, facilities, and teaching staff. He believes his ability to listen and remain open-minded equips him to tackle community concerns and contentious issues as they emerge.

Engaged in Community and Church

Serving as a board member for eight years, Sloan is actively involved in community and church activities. He attends district events, particularly sporting activities, and participates in various activities at Bellview Baptist Church. His service extends to monthly contributions to the Agape Center and preparing meals at the soup kitchen.

Experience and Connections

Sloan’s experience is further enhanced by his training through the SC School Board Association. He holds a deep connection to the district, having graduated from WHS in 1972. Family ties, including a daughter’s 17-year tenure and his wife’s ongoing service, underscore his vested interest.

Dedication to Student Welfare

Sloan’s candidacy is marked by his sincerity, availability, and dedication to putting children’s needs first. His commitment is strengthened by his retirement, allowing him ample time to serve effectively.

As voters consider the upcoming election, Rick Sloan’s proven dedication, experience, and community involvement position him as a contender for re-election to the Spartanburg School District Four Board.

Rhonda Sumner

Rhonda Sumner, a familiar face in the Enoree and Woodruff area, has thrown her hat into the ring for the District 4 school board. Her strong connection to the community, along with her extensive background in education, drives her candidacy.

A History Rooted in Education

Born and raised in the area, Sumner’s ties to education run deep. A 1979 graduate of WHS, Sumner holds a BA in elementary education from Clemson University and a master’s degree in gifted education from Converse College. Her 17-year teaching stint at WPS adds valuable classroom experience to her portfolio.

Family Legacy of Education and Service

Sumner’s commitment to education is a family legacy. Her father, Don Sumner, served as a principal at Woodruff and also on the school board. Her mother, Betty Sumner, devoted 33 years to teaching, with a significant portion at WES. The Sumner family’s dedication to children’s education and community is evident in Rhonda’s own aspirations.

Guiding Principles for Effective Governance

Sumner is driven by her love for children and community. Her view on essential attributes for board members reflects this: accessibility to students, parents, and teachers; active listening; and making decisions to the best of her ability. She believes her role is guided by a higher purpose, asserting, “The Lord has placed us here for such a time as this for the benefit of the children.” Sumner sees the board as a bridge between students, parents, administration, teachers, and the community.

A Self-Reliant Campaign

Sumner’s campaign doesn’t rely on donations or endorsements. She plans to spread the word through personal connections, family, friends, and community engagement.

A Champion of Diverse Education

Sumner champions the idea of embracing students’ diverse talents and paths. She believes that students should be encouraged to follow their unique gifts, whether it leads to college, vocational school, arts, sports, gifted education, special education, career readiness, or military service. She sees education as about opening doors for each child.

Discipline, Respect, and Trust

With a deep-rooted understanding, Sumner recognizes the importance of discipline in the classroom. She emphasizes that discipline requires mutual respect and trust between teachers, students, parents, the community, and administration.

A Vision for Education and Community

Sumner’s vision for education in the community aligns with principles of diligence, honesty, determination, and perseverance. She emphasizes the importance of wise budget priorities that truly support students’ education and well-being.

A Personal Journey in Education

Sumner’s dedication to education is personal. Last year, she homeschooled her grandson, utilizing fundamental approaches to teaching. Sumner believes in nurturing a lifelong joy of learning.

A Call to Serve

With a heart full of love for children and a desire to serve her community, Sumner envisions the school board as a staunch advocate for all stakeholders. She offers her dependability, honesty, and commitment to stand up for what’s right, making her a strong candidate for the role.

Sumner’s candidacy is driven by a lifelong devotion to education and community, and she hopes to channel her experience, passion, and dedication into effective service for District 4.

Kathleen Welch

Kathleen Welch steps into the race for a position on the Spartanburg School District Four board with a clear vision driven by her concern for Woodruff’s future growth. As the new BMW plant comes online, Welch sees both opportunities and challenges on the horizon.

Growth and Challenges Managed Right

Welch’s experiences in other communities where growth was mismanaged fuel her commitment to steering Woodruff’s growth in the right direction. With a focus on preserving Woodruff’s unique identity while addressing areas that need improvement, Welch aims to ensure that the coming growth benefits the community and its schools. She acknowledges Woodruff as a gem that deserves to shine even brighter.

A Mother’s Perspective

As a mother of two daughters, June and Jackie, who attend Woodruff schools, Welch is deeply invested in securing the best possible education for them and their peers. Raised by parents who were both teachers and with a background in higher education at major universities, she brings a unique perspective to the table that blends educational expertise with real-world insight.

A Pivotal Period of Change

Welch envisions a pivotal period for Woodruff’s education, one that retains the community’s best traditions while reevaluating and potentially restructuring the educational offerings. With a focus on preparing students to excel in the global economy, Welch sees herself as a key player in guiding this transformation.

Critical Focus Areas

The retention and support of teachers and staff are paramount for Welch. She recognizes the importance of ensuring educators are equipped to deliver quality education. Welch also emphasizes the alignment of the curriculum with diverse career paths, acknowledging that not all students wish to pursue traditional college routes. Trade schools, entrepreneurship, and the military should be viable options.

Balancing Athletic and Extracurricular Enrichment

Welch believes in the enrichment of children’s social and leadership skills through athletics and extracurricular activities. With the expected increase in funding as the tax base grows, Welch calls for careful allocation to various programs. She recognizes the current Board’s hard work in these areas and welcomes the opportunity to contribute a fresh perspective during this pivotal phase.

Uplifting the Educational Experience

As Spartanburg School District Four heads toward the election, candidates like Kathleen Welch emphasize that effective school governance is more than just policy-making. It’s about embodying qualities that uplift and enhance the educational experience for all students, laying the foundation for Woodruff’s future success.

Marie Rhodes Williams

Marie Rhodes Williams is driven by her deep connection to District 4 and her commitment to its continued success. With a rich history as a graduate, a former teacher, and a parent with children in the district, Williams brings a multifaceted perspective to her pursuit of a District 4 Trustee position.

Advocating for Strong Community Support

Williams acknowledges the critical role of schools in the community and emphasizes the need for unity and collaboration. She firmly believes that all stakeholders, including teachers, students, and families, should be supported by both the community and the administration. Williams sees the collaborative effort as essential in fostering an environment where students can thrive and prepare for their future beyond school walls.

Diverse Perspectives for Effective Decision-Making

Drawing from her own experiences as a student, a parent, and a former teacher, Williams emphasizes her ability to consider various viewpoints when addressing issues. She aims to leverage her unique background to not only share her perspectives but also to actively listen to and understand the concerns of all parties involved.

Guiding Growth with Heart and Strategy

Williams acknowledges the challenges that come with the district’s unprecedented growth and change. She believes that facing these changes with a strong commitment to students’ best interests is paramount. Williams emphasizes the importance of careful consideration and strategic planning to ensure that the district’s sense of community and pride remains intact during this season of transformation.

Key Priorities

If elected, Marie Rhodes Williams is set to focus on several key priorities:

– Maintaining Tradition: Williams is passionate about upholding the unique spirit of the district, known as the Wolverine spirit, even in the face of growth and change.

– Strategic Planning: Recognizing the need for careful planning, Williams aims to make informed decisions that align with the district’s growth while preserving its sense of community and identity.

A Dedicated Voice for District 4

Williams’ campaign for the District 4 Trustee position is driven by her unwavering dedication to the well-being and success of the district’s students, families, and educators. Her multifaceted background and commitment to collaboration make her a candidate who is ready to address challenges and seize opportunities, ensuring a positive future for District 4.

Disclaimer: Candidate Profiles Source and Access to Full Responses The candidate profiles presented in this article have been compiled based on detailed questions that were provided to each candidate running for a position on the Spartanburg School District Four Board. The responses from the candidates have been condensed and summarized to provide a concise overview of their platforms, visions, and qualifications. For those interested in delving deeper into each candidate’s full responses, we encourage you to visit our website at On our website, you will find the complete
answers from the candidates, allowing you to gain a comprehensive understanding of their perspectives,
priorities, and proposed initiatives. We believe in transparency and providing our readers with access to
the complete information provided by the candidates themselves. Visit our website to explore the in-depth responses and make informed decisions as you evaluate the candidates vying for a position on the
Spartanburg School District Four Board.

  • The Woodruff Times Editorial Team

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