Former Beaufort County educator wants to help solve this teacher issue

Patricia Fidrych
Patricia Fidrych Submitted

A former teacher who spent the past 17 years in the Beaufort County School District has decided she wants to serve the district in another capacity.

Patricia Fidrych, 60, filed her paperwork July 18 for the District 4 seat on the Beaufort County Board of Education for the Nov. 6 election.

District 4, which consists of Port Royal, Shell Point and part of Parris Island, is represented by Joseph Dunkle.

Dunkle filed for re-election earlier this month.

Fidrych, who stepped out of the classroom last month, spent most of her 17 years at the district teaching special education at Beaufort Middle School. In 2014, her colleagues at the school voted her Teacher of the Year.

She said her decision to run for school board was similar to why she decided to become a teacher.

I want to bring that same motivation to school board,” Fidrych said. “I want to help every student in the county be the best they can be academically and look at it through the lens of having been an educator in the district for almost 17 years.”

If elected, Fidrych hopes to focus on improving teacher retention, choosing the right superintendent for the district and expanding vocational training for students.

“Those are all just parts of the foundation that leads to greater student achievement, which is the bottom line,” she said.

Fidrych said she believes the school board is at “a critical juncture,” with seven of the 11 seats up for grabs. If elected, Fidrych said she would bring a “collaborative spirit” to the board.

“I think the road taken from here on out should be one of a common goal and a common mission to work collaboratively to ensure our students receive the best education possible,” she said.

Fidrych has lived in the Beaufort area with her husband, Bud, since 2000. She has two grown children who both attended Beaufort High School.

She is also a member of the Port Royal Board for Zoning Appeals.

Who else has filed?

Seven of the board’s 11 seats are up for grabs in the November election. As of Tuesday:

District 1: Seat held by board member Earl Campbell is up for election in 2020.

District 2: Longtime Lady’s Island resident Terry Thomas filed in April. Board member David Striebinger filed for re-election in July.

District 3: Board member Cynthia Gregory-Smalls filed for re-election in March. Local business owner William Smith filed in July.

District 4: Board member Joseph Dunkle filed for re-election in early July. Retired Beaufort County educator Tricia Fidrych filed in mid-July.

District 5: Two retired military men — Richard Geier and Ray Johnson — filed to run in March. Sarah Stuchell, a licensed marriage and family therapist, filed in July. The seat is held by board member Geri Kinton, who said she plans to vacate when her term ends.

District 6: Seat held by board member John Dowling is up for election in 2020.

District 7: Hilton Head native Rachel Wisnefski and Chris Davey, parts and service manager at Grainger Nissan of Beaufort, filed to run in July. Board member Evva Anderson said she has not decided whether she will run for re-election.

District 8: Former educator John Eddy announced he would run in July. Board member Mary Cordray said she has not decided whether she will run again.

District 9: Seat held by board member Christina Gwozdz is up for election in 2020.

District 10: Peter Kristian, the manager of Hilton Head Plantation, filed for the seat in late June. Board member Bill Payne said he has not decided whether he will run again.

District 11: Seat held by board member JoAnn Orischak is up for election in 2020.

Those interested in running for school board have until noon Aug. 15 to file for candidacy.

To find which board district represents you, visit