March 14, 2014

Rock Hill schools announce superintendent finalists

The Rock Hill school district has named three finalists for the superintendent position.

In its search for a new superintendent, the Rock Hill school district announced Friday that the school board has narrowed the field of candidates to three finalists – all of whom hold degrees from Clemson University.

Richard O’Malley of Edison Public Schools in Edison, N.J., Kelly Pew of the Pickens County school district, and Thomas Schmolze of Fort Mill schools were named as the three finalists.

“Every one was excellent,” said school board chairman Jim Vining of the field of candidates.

He and the other board members selected the three finalists after two days of interviews with candidates last week. People seeking the position were probably attracted by the education climate in South Carolina, the district’s technology initiatives and the proximity to a major city such as Charlotte, Vining said.

And although the average tenure for a superintendent of a public school system in South Carolina is less than three years, Vining pointed out that Rock Hill has had just four superintendents since 1980.

“It’s remarkable for this district and this community, because that’s why we have longevity in our superintendent ranks – because of the quality of our district and the community – and that’s something to be proud of,” Vining said.

All three finalists started their professional careers as teachers, and all three attended Clemson University for their undergraduate education, Vining said.

O’Malley is the superintendent of schools in Edison, the fifth largest school district in New Jersey. His master’s degree is from Monmouth University and his doctorate is from Seton Hall University. Before becoming the superintendent in Edison, O’Malley was the superintendent in the Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District in Aberdeen, N.J.

Edison public schools are generally high-performing schools. In 2011, 95.7 percent of high school graduates attended college, according to the district’s website. The district’s two high schools have produced 28 National Merit Scholars, an award given to the nation’s top scorers on the PSAT.

Pew, superintendent of Pickens County schools, has taught or worked in schools in Anderson, Greenville, Oconee and Spartanburg counties, according to her biography on the Pickens County schools website. She has degrees from Clemson and Furman universities. She also serves as an adjunct professor at Southern Wesleyan University.

Before becoming an administrator, Pew worked as a high school English teacher. In her biography, Pew said she believes in education and feels that “we are all life-long learners.”

Schmolze is the assistant superintendent for administration and student services in Fort Mill. His master’s degree is from Winthrop University and his doctorate is from Nova Southeastern University. Schmolze has worked in Clover school district as an administrator and teacher, and began his professional career as a teacher in Rock Hill.

Over the next few weeks, Vining said each of the candidates will visit the district to meet with board members, district staff and school personnel. Each will participate in a public forum with community members.

Rock Hill’s former superintendent, Lynn Moody, left the district in August to become superintendent of the Rowan-Salisbury School System in North Carolina.

John Taylor, a former Rock Hill administrator and former superintendent of the Lancaster County school district, has been serving as the interim superintendent during the search process, which was conducted by Charlotte-based executive search firm Coleman Lew & Associates.

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