NEWBERRY — The Newberry County School Board voted 6-1 to rename the District’s Administrative building after Bennie Bennett, following a recommendation from Superintendent Jim Suber.
The building will now be named School District of Newberry County Administrative Offices – Bennie D. Bennett Building.
“It is the recommendation of the administration that we honor the life, legacy and contributions of our former superintendent, Mr. Bennie Bennett, by proceeding with plans to name the district administration building in his honor,” Suber said.
Boardmember Jessie Reeder made a motion to accept the recommendation and Clyde Hill seconded the motion. The motion passed with only one boardmember, Hugh Gray, voting against.
“He was instrumental in our building program, and seeing in through. Just tremendous respect all over Newberry County for him. We just felt like it was a fitting tribute to him, although he is a very humble individual and probably will be fussing at us for doing it. We felt this was the right thing to do for such a special man,” said Jody Hamm, chairman of the Newberry County School District Board of Trustees.
Suber echoed Hamm’s statement.
“I think it is something that (was fitting) with the legacy that he left in his tenure, the mentoring, the leadership he provided for many teachers, students and administrators in this district,” Suber said.
Suber also pointed out Bennett’s involvement in the district wide building program that was about a $78 million program.
“We got a lot of beautiful new schools out of it, created a positive learning environment for our students and our staff, and obviously he was extremely proud of this administration building, which he was very integral in getting approved,” Suber said. “We just felt like it was really fitting to name it in his honor.”
In other business, Newberry Elementary School was awarded the National Healthy School Award by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation for serving healthier meals and snacks, getting students moving more, offering high-quality physical and health education and empowering school leaders to become healthy role models.
Beth Berry with Alliance for a Healthier Generation explained what it means to be one of America’s healthiest schools.
“It means that the entire school community, the school administration, the faculty and staff, the students, the parents and the community partners, all work together to meet stringent, evidence based, best practice criteria, addressing nutrition, nutrition education, physical education and physical activity to create healthier learning environment for their students and staff,” Berry said.
Berry said they have an abundance of evidence that shows schools that address the health and wellness of students and staff see a positive impact on productivity, on attendance, academic achievement, on family-school relationships and positive school climate.
Newberry Elementary School also won the Let’s Move Active Schools National Award.
“They are also qualified to win the healthier U.S. Schools Challenge Bronze Award. So they are a triple threat now,” she said.
Berry added that only 328 schools across the country were recognized this year as being one of America’s healthiest schools, and only 20 in South Carolina.
In other business, Pam Arrington, executive director of Human Resources, presented the hiring profile for the 2016-17 school year and the turnover profile for the 2015-16 school year.
In regards to the hiring profile, the District hired 65 teachers for the new year, 28 induction, nine annual, 22 continuing and three letter of agreement. This year also saw nine teacher transfers to another school in the District.
The District hired one new administrator this year, and had nine administrator transfers within the District.
“To give you an idea, with Mr. Suber being moved into the superintendent position, that made five administration vacancies because of the domino effect,” Arrington said.
Arrington said 22 percent of the District’s hires were minorities. Gray asked Arrington why there was a two percent drop from last year.
“As you know, there is an extreme teacher shortage out there. We are having less and less teachers, and less and less minorities entering the profession as well,” Arrington said.
Arrington added that the District has a diversity recruitment initiative, and that there is a committee that will have its first meeting in November. However, she said the District’s best tool is word of mouth, and getting the word out that they are in need of teachers.
• Suber announced that the Teacher of the Year and Support Staff Employee of the Year reception will be held on Nov. 17 at Newberry Middle School.
• The Mid-Carolina Middle School Junior Beta Club was recognized for earning second place at the National Beta Club Convention for Campaign Skit. The skit consisted of choreographed dance with DJ to the song “Umbrella” by Rhiana, which supported the campaign theme for Ella Denicola. Students participating were; Jessica Franklin, Eliza McManus, Lani Fulmer, Reagan Peel, Carolyne Hornsby, Hannah Cook, Addison Bowers, Al Farmer and Denicola.
• Renee Joiner was recognized for earning the Presidential Award for Excellence in mathematics and science teaching.
Reach Andrew Wigger at 803-276-0625 ext. 1867 or on Twitter @ TheNBOnews.