The Rock Hill school district will host the second of three finalists for the position of superintendent as Kelly Pew, current superintendent of the Pickens County school district, visits on Thursday.
Pew has spent a little more than 20 years working South Carolina public education, she said, from her start as a high school English teacher in Inman to her current position as Pickens County schools chief.
And although she left the classroom to work as an administrator more than 15 years ago, Pew has taken great care to stay connected to teachers, she said.
“I teach (education) as an adjunct professor at Anderson University and Southern Wesleyan University,” she said. “It keeps me at the forefront of what teachers experience in the classroom every day.”
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A life in administration is not what Pew planned after graduating from Clemson University.
“I wanted to go back and get my master’s, and I intended to get it in English, but I had a principal who really encouraged me to pursue an administrative degree,” Pew said.
And she did, first working as a principal at a middle school, then as an assistant principal and principal at middle schools and high schools around the Upstate , even working at the high school she had attended in the Anderson school district.
When she moved to the Pickens County district in 2008, it was a bad time for education as funding was slashed at the state level. Pickens lost about $12 million and most of that was in salaries. One of the first things Pew handled as assistant superintendent of human resources was the firing of large numbers of district staff members.
“It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to deal with,” she said.
Since assuming the position of Pickens County superintendent in 2012, Pew said she’s found so much to love about her job.
“No two days are the same,” she said. “I enjoy seeing kids and teachers being successful.”
As a superintendent, she said, her job is to develop a unified vision for the school district and provide the resources and support everyone needs to reach that vision.
While serving as superintendent, Pew has gotten good reviews from the school board, said Pickens County school board chairman Alex Saitta.
“She (has) exhibited strength in areas that really mattered most and overall she did very well,” Saitta said. “Personally, I’d hate to see her go.”
When she isn’t busy with district business, Pew said she enjoys spending time with her friends and family, especially her grandchildren. She’s also very involved in her church and said she enjoys reading and cross-stitching.
Moving forward, Pew said, no matter what district she’s in, she has the same goal: to make sure all students are college-, career- and citizenship-ready and have the skills to be competitive not just in South Carolina, but throughout the United States and around the world.
“Do (our students) have what they need to become what they want to become?” she said.