Rock Hill schools superintendent finalist Pew emphasizes experience

rsouthmayd@heraldonline.comMarch 27, 2014 

  • What’s next?

    The third finalist for the Rock Hill schools superintendent post is Rich O’Malley, superintendent of Edison Public Schools in Edison, N.J. O’Malley will visit Rock Hill on Wednesday, after having to reschedule a visit because a fire destroyed an elementary school in his district.

    After O’Malley’s visit, the board will meet to discuss all three candidates and possibly vote to negotiate a contract with either Pew, O’Malley or Tommy Schmolze, an assistant superintendent in Fort Mill, who visited the district Wednesday.

— In her forum Thursday with stakeholders from across the Rock Hill school district, superintendent finalist Kelly Pew relied on her experience to talk about data, finances and all other matters of school business.

Pew, superintendent of Pickens County schools, served in two assistant superintendent roles before moving into that district’s top post two years ago. She was not looking for a job when this position opened in Rock Hill, she said, but what she knew about Rock Hill’s reputation made it too big an opportunity to pass up.

On Thursday, students, teachers, administrators and community members got the chance to ask questions of Pew, mostly the same questions they asked of fellow finalist Tommy Schmolze, in an identical session on Wednesday.

In her answers, Pew made it clear that she wasn’t just familiar with Rock Hill schools, she had done her homework.

“I gave the board a 30-day plan and a 60-day plan,” she said, which outlined exactly what her priorities would be in her first few weeks as superintendent.

Those priorities included meeting with principals, students and community members to learn about Rock Hill schools’ successes, or “celebrations,” and to learn about their challenges.

Some of the discussion revolved around the use of technology in schools. Pew answered by talking about her current district.

“In Pickens County, we cannot do 1:1,” Pew said, referring to iRock, Rock Hill’s 1:1 technology initiative. “So, we implemented Bring Your Own Device.”

Moving forward with technology in Rock Hill, Pew said careful attention would need to be paid to a number of factors before making a decision about “Phase Two,” or the next level of iRock.

Pew also spoke about what she calls the “3 C’s,” or making students “college-, career- and citizenship-ready” and told one student attendee about her enthusiasm for career and technical education, because not every student can or even should go to a four-year college.

In Pickens County, she said, she’s worked with local business owners and the community college to develop programs that help students prepare for careers.

When asked what she would do to try to make the Rock Hill school district extraordinary, Pew said Rock Hill is already on the right path to get there, with innovative programs such as iRock and the schools of choice and language immersion programs in several elementary schools

“I want people to come to Rock Hill like they’re going to Mooresville,” she said, referencing Mooresville, N.C., schools, which has been recognized for its successful educational programs.

Rock Hill is already great, Pew said, but it should be the school district of choice in York County.

Rachel Southmayd •  803-329-4072

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