Presidents Higher Ed Comm Serv logo

SMC named to The President’s Honor Roll for 2014

Spartanburg Methodist College received word today that they have been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for 2014. The President’s Honor Roll recognizes higher education institutions whose community service efforts achieve meaningful outcomes in their communities. This distinction is the highest federal recognition colleges and universities can receive for community service, service-learning, and civic engagement.

”Service to our community and state is a part of our culture and nature. It is what we do at SMC and to be recognized by the President’s Honor Roll is gratifying,” shared Ron Laffitte, Dean of Students at SMC.

Since 1911, service to humanity has been stressed daily at Spartanburg Methodist College. Today, SMC students continue the tradition by volunteering at hospitals, schools, churches, animal shelters, soup kitchens, etc. In so doing, they gain valuable skills, nurture a strong work ethic, and develop assets that translate to future benefits for them personally and for society (81% of Americans who volunteered as a youth, give to charitable organizations as adults.).

SMC’s strategic commitment to engage students in service strengthens the student and the local community. During the 2013-2014 academic year, the College reported over 6,000 community service hours of investing in the lives of others, according to SMC’s Chaplain, Candice Sloan. “Volunteering fosters respect for others, patience, kindness, and the ability to empathize with people who are different from the volunteer” stated Sloan. “As a mission of the United Methodist Church, SMC lives up to John Wesley’s recommendation that we ‘Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.’ In the process, SMC students, faculty and staff have touched a countless number of lives.”

In 2012, a reported 3.1 million students engaged in community service, providing 118 million hours of community service, valued at $2.5 billion, per the Volunteering and Civic Life in America report. Volunteering is the foundation to student achievement and life-long learning. The benefits of volunteering are reaped both now, and in the future. Out of 13.3 million youth, 59.3% volunteer an average of 3.5 hours per week, versus 49% of adults, who volunteer an average of 4.2 hours. Statistically, students who volunteer just one hour or more a week are 50% less likely to abuse alcohol, cigarettes, become pregnant, or engage in other destructive behavior.

Graduating Class without robes website image

Nine Paralegal Students Graduate from SMC

On Sunday, November 23, 2014 Spartanburg Methodist College held its 2014 Paralegal Certificate Evening Program graduation in the William Milton Davis Mission Chapel. Justin Bradley, Spartanburg County Councilman-elect, District 2, was the commencement keynote speaker. Bradley serves as corporate counsel for Shellpoint Mortgage Servicing, a division of New Penn Financial, LLC with responsibility for litigation management, licensing, and vendor management.

JenniferParalegal instructor, Jennifer Jordan, with the Office of the Seventh Circuit Solicitor, was recognized by the graduating class as the 2014 Instructor of the Year, an honor she also received in 2009 and 2013.

StellaStella Johnson, of Una, SC, was presented by her classmates with the prestigious Queen Mims Memorial Student Speaker Award, which carries the honor of delivering the commencement speech on behalf of the class. The award is named after Jonesville native Queen Elizabeth Mims, a 2007 SMC Paralegal Certificate Program graduate, who worked as the office manager for her brother, local attorney Albert V. Smith. Mims, who served as class speaker of her graduating class, lost her battle with cancer in 2011. Johnson served her country for eight years in the United States Air Force and then served for over three years in the Georgia Air National Guard. Participating in the City of Spartanburg’s Citizen’s Police Academy peaked Johnson’s interest in law and led her to the SMC Paralegal Certificate Evening Program.

SusanSpartanburg resident Susan C. Abbott, was recognized by her instructors with the Liz Patterson Student of the Year Award. The award is named after Liz Patterson, the former 3-term United States Congresswoman for the 4th Congressional District of South Carolina, who founded the program, which she began in 1997 at Converse College. In 2004, Patterson was instrumental in the moving of the program to SMC, where she currently serves as a member of the Board of Trustees and is a member of the Paralegal Certificate Program’s Advisory Committee. Abbott was recognized for her good moral character, confidence, strong academic and leadership abilities and her exceptional promise. She was judged to represent the ideal qualities of a Spartanburg Methodist College Paralegal Certificate Program Student.

Graduating Class without robesAdditional graduates include Catherine Danniel Johnston, of Woodruff, SC. Spartanburg residents Gerald J. Harblin and Cheyenne Nicole Harblin, the program’s first father-daughter duo; Ashley Alexandra Agnew; Alicia Elaine Crouch and Katie Gault Easler, who were both recognized with 212 Degree Awards for their extra drive in securing employment in the legal field while still students in the program.

“Our graduates are unique and intelligent individuals who all shared a dream to work in the legal field when they entered the program. I am very proud of our program’s commitment to bestow students with marketable job skills that increase their employer’s efficiency, productivity, and billable hours. It is an honor to play a part in helping students’ dreams become realities,” shared Yvonne Harper, who has directed SMC’s Paralegal Certificate Program since 2004.

The roots of the paralegal profession can be traced to the late 1960s when Congress, law firms, local bar associations, and the American Bar Association (ABA) began significant efforts to increase access to legal services in the United States. Paralegals, trained non-lawyers, working under the supervision of attorneys, provide clients with affordable and efficient legal services that otherwise would be performed by licensed attorneys.
SMC’s paralegal program, designed for beginning as well as advanced legal workers, offers personalized academic advisement and faculty, composed of local practicing judges, attorneys and paralegals, who provide networking opportunities and offer real-world experience with practical application. Instruction is practice-oriented and relates to those areas of the law in which paralegals are most in demand. The program consists of fourteen 10-week courses. Classes are held on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 5:30 p.m. For information, contact Yvonne Harper, harpery@smcsc.edu or 864-266-7409.

Santa's helpers

Spartanburg Methodist College Celebrating the Season with Alternative Christmas Office Party

On Friday, December 5, 2014 Spartanburg Methodist College will hold its annual Christmas Party. However, like many organizations today, this year SMC was looking for a better way to celebrate Christmas for its employees.

“Today’s overall economic woes, less tolerance for overindulgence, and lack of employee engagement is causing human resource departments all across the country to look at the feasibility of the traditional holiday office party, which tends to be both expensive and energy-consuming,” explained Jenny Dunn, Director of Human Resources and Special Assistant to the President at SMC.

Friday’s holiday celebration will be held from 11 am to 1:30 pm in the Phyllis Buchheit Board Room at SMC and will focus on giving back to the community. Faced with competition for employee time, attention and energy during the December holiday season, and ever-mindful of the College’s financial investment, SMC President Dr. Colleen Perry Keith was committed to keeping things “merry” for her staff while also being a good steward to the supporters of the college.

“The goal is to decorate and fill 500 gift bags for the College’s young friends at Jesse Bobo Elementary School. We will enjoy lively holiday music, great food and awesome fellowship, providing an opportunity for faculty, staff as well as members of our Board of Trustees to participate in a team-building, morale boosting holiday party that will make Christmas brighter for a special group of young people,” shared Keith.

Research shows employees find charitable giving motivational and exciting. According to Dunn, “our employees have enjoyed seeing the piles of snack food, school supplies, small toys and other donated gifts growing in the President’s Office.”

therapy dogs

Therapy Dogs visit Spartanburg Methodist College

Spartanburg Methodist College’s Psi Beta chapter, the national Psychology honor society, hosted the Spartanburg Chapter of Therapy Dog International on Thursday, November 20 in the Davis Mission Chapel.

Founded in 1976 in New Jersey, Therapy Dogs International is a volunteer organization dedicated to regulating, testing and registration of therapy dogs and their volunteer handlers for the purpose of visiting nursing homes, hospitals, other institutions and wherever else therapy dogs are needed. TDI registers all breeds of dogs. Some dogs have pedigrees, while others have been adopted from local shelters or are rescue dogs. In 2012, an estimated 24,750 dog/handler teams were registered with TDI.

To belong to Therapy Dogs International, dogs must be at least one year old and have a sound temperament. All dogs must be tested and evaluated by a Certified TDI Evaluator and must pass a TDI temperament evaluation for suitability to become a Therapy Dog. The test will also include the evaluation of the dog’s behavior around people with the use of some type of service equipment (wheelchairs, crutches, etc.).

P1020822Ms. Peggy Crawford, a licensed trainer and evaluator for Therapy Dogs, and the Director of the Spartanburg Chapter, shared her personal story of working in the Chicago medical field for over thirty years during which time she first became involved with Therapy Dogs.

The use of canines to help mankind is known throughout the world. They have been used for guarding flocks, tracking, hunting, search and rescue, leading the blind, and in assisting the deaf and physically challenged. The bond between dog and man dates back to early history, but it was not until recently that a correlation was acknowledged between this bond and the emotional health of humans. Crawford shared that “studies have shown that a person holding or petting an animal will cause a lowering of blood pressure, the release of strain and tension, and can draw out a person from loneliness and depression.”

SMC students greatly appreciated the opportunity to learn about this volunteer organization, but they especially appreciated the opportunity to interact and experience the many hands-on benefits of the therapy dogs that were part of the presentation.

what a kisserloyal friend

 

Duncan Estate

SMC Alumni & Friends Cocktail Christmas Party

You are cordially invited to attend the

SMC Alumni & Friends Cocktail Christmas Party

Friday, December 5th, 2014
6 – 8 p.m.

The Duncan Estate
840 Union Street
Spartanburg, SC 29302

Please RSVP to Becky Snow at SnowB@smcsc.edu
864.587.4210
Hosted by the SMC Alumni Council Members
Amy Threatt Solomon & Clint Settle

• Cocktail Party Attire Suggested
• No Charge to attend

Alumni logo

SMC Recognizes Alumni with Awards

Spartanburg Methodist College hosted their annual Homecoming Alumni Weekend November 14th and 15th. The Class of 1964 celebrated their 50th reunion, as did several members from the Class of 1974, who were celebrating their 40th reunion. Each year, the Alumni Association honors and recognizes certain individuals who have demonstrated exemplary leadership and support of Spartanburg Methodist College. This year’s recipients included:

goodParker Drake Anderson, who was recognized as the 2014 Young Alumnae of the Year by Dr. Colleen Perry Keith, President of SMC. Anderson, class of 2010, is originally from Chesterfield, SC. According to Leah Pruitt, Director of Alumni Relations for SMC, “Parker chose to attend SMC because of a wrestling scholarship and he considers it one of the best decisions he ever made.”
After graduating from SMC, he attended USC Upstate, earning a BA in Mass Communications and worked as a photographer at a television station in Augusta, GA before coming back to the Upstate. He currently works as a new photojournalist with WYFF-TV, but recently accepted a position at KSTP-TV in Minneapolis as a sports photojournalist where he will be covering the twin cities’ four professional teams as well as the University of Minnesota. “You could say this is somewhat of a dream job where Parker will be traveling around the country with the pro teams, covering sports 24/7,” shared Keith.

Steve Denton, SMC alumThe 2014 Alumnus of the Year Award went to Stephen Denton, Class of 1984. A lifelong Spartanburg resident, Denton graduated from Spartanburg High School, studied criminal justice at SMC, earning his Associates Degree, and then a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of South Carolina Upstate. Denton was with the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Department for nearly two decades, serving as a narcotics and vice squad officer and homicide investigator before retiring as captain of the investigation division, where he supervised over 100 detectives. At the age of 43, Denton enrolled in the Charleston School of Law, receiving his Juris Doctor in 2010. After being admitted to the SC State Bar that same year, he ventured to the other side of the courtroom, and now represents defendants. Denton practiced law on his own for a year before joining the law firm of Harrison, White, Smith & Coggins, P.C., where he practices criminal law – his dream job. When not working 60-hour weeks, Denton enjoys riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle and spending time with his wife, Leigh and their two daughters.

Mookie Wilson, SMC alumWilliam Wilson, better known as Mookie Wilson was honored with the SMC Distinguished Service Award which is given each year to highlight the exemplary leadership that its recipient has given in advancing the mission of the institution. The award recognizes long-term loyalty demonstrated by a history of support to the College and continued interest and participation in SMC as well as community involvement. After retiring from Major League Baseball, Mookie, class of 1976, made helping and inspiring people his focus. He now serves as a minister, author, motivational speaker and mentor. Recently, he traveled to SMC to spend time with students and also delivered the keynote address at SMC’s Founders Day celebration.

Pruitt commented “SMC congratulates these award winners, and we wish each continued success in their futures. They make us proud to call them family.”

homecoming logo

Spartanburg Methodist College hosted their annual Homecoming Alumni Weekend November 14th and 15th. The Class of 1964 celebrated their 50th reunion, as did several members from the Class of 1974, who were celebrating their 40th reunion. Each year, the Alumni Association honors and recognizes certain individuals who have demonstrated exemplary leadership and support of Spartanburg Methodist College. This year’s recipients included:

Parker Drake Anderson, who was recognized as the 2014 Young Alumnae of the Year by Dr. Colleen Perry Keith, President of SMC. Anderson, class of 2010, is originally from Chesterfield, SC. According to Leah Pruitt, Director of Alumni Relations for SMC, “Parker chose to attend SMC because of a wrestling scholarship and he considers it one of the best decisions he ever made.”
After graduating from SMC, he attended USC Upstate, earning a BA in Mass Communications and worked as a photographer at a television station in Augusta, GA before coming back to the Upstate. He currently works as a new photojournalist with WYFF-TV, but recently accepted a position at KSTP-TV in Minneapolis as a sports photojournalist where he will be covering the twin cities’ four professional teams as well as the University of Minnesota. “You could say this is somewhat of a dream job where Parker will be traveling around the country with the pro teams, covering sports 24/7,” shared Keith.

The 2014 Alumnus of the Year Award went to Stephen Denton, Class of 1984. A lifelong Spartanburg resident, Denton graduated from Spartanburg High School, studied criminal justice at SMC, earning his Associates Degree, and then a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of South Carolina Upstate. Denton was with the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Department for nearly two decades, serving as a narcotics and vice squad officer and homicide investigator before retiring as captain of the investigation division, where he supervised over 100 detectives. At the age of 43, Denton enrolled in the Charleston School of Law, receiving his Juris Doctor in 2010. After being admitted to the SC State Bar that same year, he ventured to the other side of the courtroom, and now represents defendants. Denton practiced law on his own for a year before joining the law firm of Harrison, White, Smith & Coggins, P.C., where he practices criminal law – his dream job. When not working 60-hour weeks, Denton enjoys riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle and spending time with his wife, Leigh and their two daughters.

William Wilson, better known as Mookie Wilson was honored with the SMC Distinguished Service Award which is given each year to highlight the exemplary leadership that its recipient has given in advancing the mission of the institution. The award recognizes long-term loyalty demonstrated by a history of support to the College and continued interest and participation in SMC as well as community involvement. After retiring from Major League Baseball, Mookie, class of 1976, made helping and inspiring people his focus. He now serves as a minister, author, motivational speaker and mentor. Recently, he traveled to SMC to spend time with students and also delivered the keynote address at SMC’s Founders Day celebration.

Pruitt commented “SMC congratulates these award winners, and we wish each continued success in their futures. They make us proud to call them family.”

SMC Asks You to Ponder

Ask any grade school child and they will tell you Thanksgiving was first celebrated in 1621 when the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians shared a fall harvest. Some might even tell you that in 1863 President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of thanksgiving to be held each year in November, and that today in the United States, Thanksgiving is held on the fourth Thursday in November.

The very word “Thanksgiving” conjures up images of brilliant orange, crimson and purple leaves falling from trees; visiting family and friends; watching football and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, either in person or on television; and without question – food. Turkey dinners with all of the holiday trimmings; including pies and stuffing, made for generations – one particular way.

Yet, Thanksgiving Day is more than a day of fond memories, parades, football and dinners. It is a day to remind us of the blessings, treasures and wonderful family and friends in our lives. Most will spend a few moments before dinner to give thanks, but for many the true meaning of Thanksgiving ends at the dinner table.

The meaning of Thanksgiving however, should not end after a few seconds of meditation or a prayer, it has broader significance. It is a reminder to slow down and take an assessment of our lives. “Thanks” – “giving” is a call to action in both thought and deed. It is a time for us to see, really see, and appreciate the abundance in our lives. This recognition allows us to express our gratitude and prompts us to share such blessings of wealth, time and talents with others.

On Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 27, as you sit down to dinner, spend a few moments giving thanks and pausing to reflect on what actions you can take in the next year to fully express and experience the true meaning of Thanksgiving. Can you free-up one hour each week and share that time with someone in need? Can you increase your charitable monetary giving? The very act of giving of your time and talent acknowledges that there is abundance in your life.

Spartanburg Methodist College prays this Thanksgiving Day you experience a new perspective on the true abundance of your life!

homecoming 2014

Congratulations to the 2014 Homecoming Court.

Congratulations to the following students who were voted by their peers to the 2014 Homecoming Court. A 2nd vote will take place next week to determine the King and Queen. The court will be presented and the king and queen crowned on Saturday, November 15th between the two basketball games!

King Nominees and the clubs/groups that nominated them:
Jesse Herrera – Pioneer Peers
Travis Goodjoin – POPS Programming Board
Jason Smith – Kappa Sigma Alpha
Thomas Sparks – SGA
Kendall Witt – Fellowship of Christian Athletes

Queen Nominees and the clubs/groups that nominated them:
Brookelyn Brockelbank – SGA
Amber Johnson – Volleyball
Ashley Rogers – Fellowship of Christian Athletes
Chelsea Seibles – Women’s Basketball
Brianna Wright – POPS Programming Board

the firebugs play

SMC Players to present “The Firebugs” November 6, 7, and 8 at 7:30 p.m.

Spartanburg, SC – The Spartanburg Methodist College Players will present Max Frisch’s classic “The Firebugs” November 6, 7, and 8 in the Marsha and Jimmy Gibbs Auditorium, located within the Edger H. Ellis Jr. Hall, on the campus of Spartanburg Methodist College. Performances are at 7:30 pm. General admission is $5, with SMC faculty, staff and students admitted for free.

Gottlieb Beidermann, an upright conservative businessman, discovers that the “guests” who have invited themselves into his attic are notorious arsonists who have burned much of the town. Beidermann tries to befriend them, offering them food and drink, assisting them in rigging the explosives, and in the final moments, giving them matches. Subtitled “A Learning Play Without a Lesson,” this tragi-comedy satirizes the complacency of a comfortable upper class society in the face of looming disaster. First presented as a German-language radio play in the 1950s, The Firebugs appeared off-Broadway in 1963 and has seen numerous revivals and adaptations ever since.

Appearing in the role of Gottlieb Beidermann is Chandler Goodrich, a drama major from Greer, SC. Babette Beidermann, his wife, is played by Tatiana Ferguson, a mass communications major from Carlisle. Shakira Jackson of Inman plays Stepp Smitz, an arsonists. Shakira is a musical theater major from Inman. Willi Eisenring, the second arsonist, is played by Patrice Haynes. She is a performing arts major originally from Tuscaloosa, AL., now residing in Columbia, SC.

Eva Zygmuntowicz, a fine arts major from Boiling Springs, plays Anna, the maid of the Beidermann household. The Chorus of Firemen who observe and comment on the action includes Alex Wright, a chemistry major from Spartanburg; Zygmuntowicz; Desirelle Nesbitt, a psychology major from Inman; and Pierce Burch, a Biology major from Holly Hill, SC. Burch doubles as a gullible policeman, Nesbitt plays a distraught widow, and Wright enacts a witless politician.

Kaitlyn Savannah Kizer, a sociology major from Lexington is stage manager; Leo Kingsley, an arts major from Spartanburg is sound operator; scenic construction by the Drama Workshop classes including Flavoris Belue, a drama major from Campobello; Kyle Campbell, an arts major from Charleston; Elexis Johnson, a fine arts major from Spartanburg; Jonathan Jones, an English major from Greer; Millard Jordan, an art major from Columbia; Austin Lindsey, an English major from Spartanburg; Christopher Culp-Robinson, a Criminal Justice major from Campobello, as well as members of the cast.

Mr  Scrooge! logo

Mr. Scrooge – Thursday, December 4, 2014 at 8:00 pm

A musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol
Book by Lanny Lanford and Brian Craig
Music and Lyrics by Lanny Lanford

Thursday, December 4, 2014
8:00 pm
Performance is free of charge, but reservations are required.

Marsha and Jimmy Gibbs Auditorium
Edgar G. Ellis Hall
Spartanburg Methodist College

A carved prime rib dinner will precede the show. Cost for dinner – $25
Proceeds benefit the SMC study abroad program.

Please RSVP by November 21, 2014 to Cheryl Somerset
somersetc@smcsc.edu or (864) 587-4236 for both dinner reservations and seating confirmation.

Ed Dickerson webphoto

THE VOICE

The Spartanburg Phillies minor league baseball team played in the Western Carolinas League and South Atlantic League from 1963-1994, at Duncan Park. When Ed Dickerson became the public address announcer at Duncan Park, the Voice of the Spartanburg Phillies-Traders-Spinners-Suns, the Israelis had just taken over the Gaza Strip in the Six-Day War of 1967; the Beatles were enjoying the success of Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band; and sadly, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King were living their last summer. Dickerson was finishing his second year at SJC when Joe Bowles, Dean of Men at SJC, who also served as the Duncan Park announcer, but was leaving to take a position at Brevard College, approached Dickerson outside the gym about the announcer opportunity. Bowles recommended him to Pat Williams, who was then general manager of the Phillies and the rest is history.

Dickerson went on to Clemson, often commuting to Spartanburg to broadcast games. On a Sunday evening in 1969, Dickerson announced to the fans at the park that, “The Eagle has landed,” when man landed on the moon. Through the years, Dickerson acquired a plethora of memories and saw crowds of several thousand in the stands, to crowds of less than 100. Bob Feller came through from time-to-time with home-run hitting contests. Bart Starr, Johnny Unitas, and Oscar Robertson were just a few of the celebrities who came to Spartanburg for promotions and such.

For 27 years, Dickerson’s crisp, professional voice welcomed fans to “Beautiful Duncan Park.” He had fans who rose for the playing of the national anthem. He introduced the “Singing Postmaster from the little postmaster’s office,” and his rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” was sung during the seventh-inning stretch. He was the public address announcer that was not for either team—he was simply the voice.

After leaving his announcer role in 1994, Dickerson did not stay silent for long. Since 2008 he has been announcing Spartanburg High School football games, and in 2013 started announcing their baseball games, too. He has also been the voice of Spartanburg Christian Academy’s basketball for nine years and started calling their football games three years ago. Dickerson was a teacher of 8th grade American History for 31 years in the Spartanburg School District 7. He coached for the “Battle of the Brains” academic competition and is currently an active member of the SMC Alumni Council. Dickerson resides in Spartanburg with his wife Becky.

He is thrilled to see the renovations taking place at Duncan Park today and as he left our meeting, he winked and asked…“How do you keep a ballpark cool? Fill it with fans!” Words of wisdom from “The Voice.”

Ward website image

Spartanburg Methodist College presents SGA Founder’s Day Faculty Award to Professor Barry Ward

The Spartanburg Methodist College Student Government Association presented Professor Barry Ward with a Founder’s Day Faculty Award on Thursday, October 23 during the college’s annual Founder’s Day Celebration, which featured guest speaker NY Mets Hall of Famer, and SMC alumni, Mookie Wilson.

The 2014 inaugural award was presented to a faculty member who represents and embodies the spirit and vision of Dr. David English Camak, a visionary Methodist minister. SGA President, Adell Gordon, shared “the recipient of this award is one who is not afraid to try new things, puts the needs of students first, and is respected in their profession and by the student body.”

A 1979 graduate of SMC, Ward majored in Criminal Justice and earned an Associate in Arts. He continued his studies at the University of South Carolina, earning a Bachelor of Science, and his Master of Arts from Gardner Webb University, as well as pursuing additional graduate work at Lander University and Winthrop University.

Ward returned to SMC as an employee in March of 1987 and over the years has held positions as Security Guard, Director of Intramurals, Director of the Student Center, Director of Men’s Housing, Director of College Work Study, Cross Country Coach and Professor of Health & PE. He has long believed in the merits of the extended-learning-classroom concept. He teaches by day, and in the evening shares his time and talents coaching intramural sports and each January he chaperones a ski excursion for students.

“Have you had a kindness shown? Pass it on; ‘Twas not given for thee alone, Pass it on; Let it travel down the years, Let it wipe another’s tears, ‘Til in Heaven the deed appears – Pass it on. ” Although Dr. Henry Burton, Clergyman and Writer, is credited for this hymn/quote, Professor Ward has lived these words this entire life.

College life has been and is good for many SMC students thanks to the kindness of this gentle man who never forgot the kindness shown to him as a child. For you see this professor grew up in the loving arms of the Epworth Children’s Home. Kindness is all he has ever known and he passes it on daily…with jokes, fist pumps, poetry and a perpetually perky persona.

Ward once shared that he was blessed to call Epworth home, “I was fortunate to be able to draw upon my experiences at Epworth and build upon that foundation to motivate me academically and professionally. Without Epworth and SMC I probably wouldn’t be as confident, prepared and excited about life as I am,” said the 60 year-old, who is known to cartwheel and do backflips spontaneously down the halls of the Walker Building where he teaches.

Ward was also selected by his peers at SMC as the recipient of the 2010-2011 SCICU Excellence in Teaching Award and used the award stipend to expand his knowledge of health issues and shared that new knowledge with his students. A quote from his nominating materials reads “He creates an atmosphere where students learn life-saving and life-long lessons.”

Daniel Foster

Gaffney High graduation coach is the ‘real deal’

By Lynne P. Shackleford
lynne.shackleford@shj.com
Published: Monday, October 20, 2014 at 5:27 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, October 20, 2014 at 5:27 p.m.

Photo:  Daniel Foster, a graduation coach at Gaffney High School, right, talks with Isaac Polanco, 15, a student at the school, on Wednesday between classes. MICHAEL JUSTUS/michael.justus@shj.com

Gaffney High School graduation coach Daniel Foster gives students two things many of them have never had: encouragement and hope.

“When I look at them, I see me,” Foster said. “I’ve been where they are. Some of them don’t think they can get a diploma. Some don’t have support at home. Some have just made a bad grade in core class, and they’re off track, but somewhere along the way, they have to get hope back.”

Fresh out of high school 20 years ago, Foster was working with a plumbing crew when the company’s owner asked him about his future plans.

Foster had just graduated from Gaffney High School and wasn’t interested in college; he just wanted to work. The company’s owner, the late Gene Wilson, then drove Foster around rural communities — Corinth, Goucher and Blacksburg — before stopping the car.

“He asked me which community I liked best, and I didn’t know where he was coming from,” Foster said. “But he told me that if I didn’t make something of myself that I would never go anywhere else — I wouldn’t even have the option of going anywhere else — and that hit home to me.”

Wilson then drove Foster to Spartanburg Methodist College and helped him enroll in a two-year program.

“That man did more for me that day because I saw that someone else saw my potential,” Foster said. “I understood then that I could be something.”

After visiting six countries during his 11 years in the Army, Foster returned home and started working as a long-term substitute at Gaffney High School before becoming the in-school suspension coordinator. He is now the school’s first graduation coach, and is tasked with coaching and mentoring at-risk students, mostly those who repeated ninth-grade and other students he calls “geographically displaced seniors.” The latter are students who should be seniors, but failed English or math classes so they are in 11th grade homerooms.

Gaffney High Principal Rashaad Fitzpatrick said the graduation coach position was created based on best practices from the National Dropout Prevention Center at Clemson University. The center recommends using a holistic approach with individualized success plans for at-risk students and having a facilitator, or coach, monitoring students.

“Mr. Foster was a good fit because he had already built relationships with some students as the (in-school suspension) supervisor last year,” Fitzpatrick said. “He is one of those people who understands what we’re trying to accomplish and goes the extra mile to make it happen.”

Foster said he has no doubt the school’s graduation rate of 78 percent, just below the state average, will rise this year just out of will and determination. His goal is a graduation rate of 80 percent this year.

“We’re going to show everyone that we can do it,” Foster said. “No doubt in my mind that the rate will go up this year. When you lay it out for them, show them a path to success, they’ll make it.”

At the beginning of the year, Foster was assigned to 138 students at Gaffney High and the alternative school and mapped out an individualized plan for each. He meets with each of them at least twice a week and attends classes with them periodically to monitor how they take notes and to hear their concerns. Foster refers them to tutors or peer study groups and contacts their teachers to monitor progress.

If they are chronically absent, Foster and another district staffer go to their houses to find out what issues they are facing.

“Mr. Foster is stepping in as a counselor, a father, a big brother. Somewhere they’re not getting the guidance or love they need, and he’s the boots on the ground, so to speak,” said in-school suspension supervisor Tierney Rollins, who works closely with Foster. “He knows them, remembers what their goals are; he works really hard… His goal is to help them realize that ‘I can do this, and life will be different.’”

Rollins said Foster is an “encourager at every turn.”

“If we have a student who has a behavior issue, Mr. Foster finds the core issue behind the behavioral problem,” Rollins said. “He shows them discipline and love and tells them they can learn from their mistakes, and what he’s telling them comes from his heart.”

Jamie Brown, who teaches Algebra II, said students take Foster’s advice and motivation to heart.

“When he walks in the classroom, I see the faces of the students he’s trying to help,” Brown said. “They know Mr. Foster provides accountability. They know he’s watching them, and they want to take better notes. They want to listen and do the work.”

Brown said one student was a few credits off-track and was coming to class unprepared. After being referred to Foster, the student came to Brown’s class the following day with class work he had missed, prepared to take notes.

“I was shocked,” Brown said. “The parents are involved now. Mr. Foster makes it click for these students.”

Foster said all students want to succeed, but they’ve lost faith and drive somewhere along the way.

“I’ve lived their life,” Foster said. “When I was in middle school and high school, no one forced me to study.”

Isaac Polanco, 15, should be a sophomore, but is repeating ninth grade because he failed algebra with a 68 — two points shy of a D. Polanco, one of Foster’s students, has an 86 in geometry so far this semester, and he’s on track to become a sophomore in December.

“Mr. Foster is the real deal,” Polanco said. “He knows what’s going on with us because he cares enough to ask. He wants us to make it. I’m proud of the grades I’m making now, and I will get back on track, but it would’ve been a lot harder without him.”

Donna Phillips, guidance director, said just nine weeks into the school year, she’s already seen students who are making progress.  “I see they’re more motivated; they have direction,” Phillips said. “We’re so fortunate to have him. He’s pushing the kids to succeed.”