Superintendent Valerie Truesdale was on her way to present the school district's budget to Beaufort County Council on Tuesday when her phone rang and she heard a bit of good news:
She had been named the state's Superintendent of the Year by the South Carolina Association of School Administrators, and will represent the Palmetto State in a national competition.
"I was very surprised," she said. "To have been selected by a panel of your peers is just an honor."
But the first person she told, Board of Education chairman Fred Washington Jr., said he wasn't surprised at all.
"I think she has helped bring about great stability and change to our district and establish credibility that was needed," Washington said. "With her, we are doing things that are going to have a direct impact on student achievement."
He credits Truesdale with standardizing and better aligning curriculums across the district's elementary, middle and high schools.
Board vice chairman Bob Arundell said, "She has an unyielding passion to do what's right and what's best for kids; she has a keen sense of fiscal responsibility from both the point of an administrator and as a public official working for taxpayers; and she has an unwavering loyalty to raise up our teachers and staff by challenging them to be the best they can be while giving them the tools to do so."
An educator for nearly 30 years, Truesdale came to Beaufort County in July 2007 after serving as superintendent in Oconee County.
During the past two years, Truesdale said she has focused on helping teachers develop skills to engage students in the classroom by offering professional development opportunities and helping instructors use technology effectively.
Truesdale will now compete against the other contestants from across the countryfor the national Superintendent of the Year title. Four finalists receive cash awards and medallions. The national winner wins a $10,000 scholarship to give to a deserving high school student, a plaque and a $2,000 U.S. savings bond.
Earlier this school year, Carole Ingram of Beaufort Middle School was named the state's Middle School Principal of the Year. Jennifer Morillo of Lady's Island Middle School also was named the state's Middle School Assistant Principal of the Year.