Two School Leaders from Greenville County Selected for State Awards

Columbia, SC — The South Carolina Association of School Administrators (SCASA) has
named two school leaders from the Greenville County School District as 2019 Elementary
Assistant Principal the Year and 2019 Elementary Principal of the Year. Leah Stafford,
assistant principal of Simpsonville Elementary School, is the 2019 South Carolina
Elementary Principal of the Year, and Rhonda Rhodes, principal of Taylors Elementary
School, is the 2019 South Carolina Elementary Principal of the Year. Both Mrs. Stafford and Mrs. Rhodes were selected from outstanding fields of administrator candidates by a veteran panel of judges.

The other finalists for Assistant Elementary Principal of the Year were Matthew Gams,
assistant principal of River Springs Elementary School in Lexington-Richland School District Five and Trent Rogerson, assistant principal of Jackson Creek Elementary School in Richland School District Two. The criteria used in the selection of this award are set by the National Association of Elementary School Principals. State sponsors are Horace Mann and Herff Jones.

“We are excited to announce that Leah Stafford has been named the SCASA Elementary
Assistant Principal of the Year,” said Beth Phibbs, executive director of the South Carolina
Association of School Administrators. “She is an outstanding leader who is well respected
and valued by the students, faculty, and staff of Simpsonville Elementary School."

Principal of Simpsonville Elementary, Jackie Earle, describes Mrs. Stafford’s contribution to their school, “Leah Stafford is a caring, conscientious administrator who always puts students first. She works hard with the faculty and staff to improve instructional practices while always remembering that students need to love learning. Leah inspires the students to become lifelong learners through her daily interaction with them. She realizes that it is a cooperative effort from all aspects of a child’s life that helps to nurture a child’s inquisitive spirit. We here at Simpsonville Elementary are very fortunate to have Leah Stafford as part of our team.”

Superintendent of the Greenville County School District, Dr. Burke Royster added, “Leah
Stafford understands that administrators are most successful when they are interacting with students and staff on a daily basis and helping to define the culture and focus of the school. It is not enough to be a good manager, great assistant principals support teachers and students by being available, visible, interactive, and nurturing. We are very grateful for Leah’s commitment to an educational model that focuses on the needs of each student.”

The other finalist for Elementary Principal of the Year was Jeaneen Tucker, principal of
Round Top Elementary School in Richland School District Two. The criteria used in the selection of this award are set by the National Association of Elementary School Principals. State sponsors are also Horace Mann and Herff Jones.

"We are pleased to announce that Rhonda Rhodes has been named the SCASA Elementary
Principal of the Year," said Beth Phibbs, Executive Director of the South Carolina
Association of School Administrators. "She is a distinguished leader whose dedication to the students, teachers, and community creates a climate and culture for students to succeed.”

Dr. Burke Royster, Superintendent of Greenville County Schools, discusses the culture Mrs. Rhodes has created at her school, “Rhonda has done an outstanding job at Taylors
Elementary. In addition to building a culture of trust, collaboration, and warmth, her students’ academic performance continues to improve. Rhonda’s focus on meeting each student’s individual needs epitomizes the idea of a student-centered focus.”

SCASA, the professional organization for school leaders in South Carolina, has more than
4,300 members. From professional development opportunities and research, to publications and legislative advocacy, SCASA’s focus is to support school leaders in providing the best possible education for South Carolina’s young people. As a state affiliate of three national associations for school leaders, SCASA also works on the national level. SCASA’s recent state-level winners have gone on to win national awards, including the 2018 Secondary Assistant Principal of the Year, 2018 Secondary Principal of the Year, and 2019 Secondary Principal of the Year.