September 2021
The Power of ONE: Upping our Game to Support Students in an All-Important Year
First year teacher Allison Dunlap stands ready to welcome her English students at SHS.
As the third week of school comes to an end, we are full of excitement and gratitude to see students, teachers and staff back together. Each school radiates with enthusiasm for learning and the belief that the power to positively impact students is within each one of us.

In his second year as superintendent, Jeff Stevens opened this academic year with a bit of fanfare. Opening Convocation (shared this year via video rather than in person) began with a processional of school flags carried by our Teachers of the Year. As Mr. Stevens introduced this year's theme, The Power of ONE, he challenged District 7 staff to reach within to realize their power and to join together as we show the world the power of one teacher, of one school, of one school district, and of one District 7 family.

“When we all work together with a laser focus on our mission to inspire and equip – driven by the belief that everything we need to positively impact students is within each one of us – District 7 is truly unstoppable,” said Stevens. “That's the Power of ONE.”

In preparation for this all-important year, D7 teachers have been engaged in training that enables them to better support students in multiple ways. We are focusing on key areas of need in the wake of the pandemic, such as:

  • implementing a student-centered, social and emotional learning approach to teaching and classroom management;
  • a new evidenced-based literacy curriculum (Fountas and Pinnell);
  • a new instructional framework and curriculum maps and pacing guides to help us approach teaching and learning consistently across all schools; and
  • increasing the positive impact of iReady by helping teachers understand how to interpret and apply each student's assessment data in order to provide individualized support.

Across our district, schools are setting measurable student performance goals and developing strategies to meet them. Resources are intensified for critical areas such as social workers, family involvement facilitators, curriculum and instruction leaders, as only a few examples. The expansion of 4K into our elementary schools has more than doubled the number of students we are serving, with 240 students currently enrolled. Our partnership with Boys and Girls Clubs has expanded to provide after-school programs at every elementary school for students who need it. The list of high-impact initiatives goes on as District 7 takes the needs of our community with seriousness of heart and mind

Working together towards our shared vision and mission, we will harness the Power of ONE to inspire and equip our students this year!
Former JBE Teacher Honored in Nationwide Tribute to Teachers
On the recent TV program Sunday Night in America with Trey Gowdy, a new series focusing on America's classrooms was kicked off. Spartanburg's former federal prosecutor who served as the U.S. Representative for South Carolina's 4th congressional district delivered a powerful message about teachers and a tribute to his elementary school teacher at Jesse Boyd, Iris Ezell.

"Mrs. Ezell was a great teacher, and I was a terrible student, underwhelming in both performance and behavior," he shared. "She asked me to stay after school one day, which to me meant I was in trouble and would soon be in trouble with my parents. She pulled two chairs face-to-face, cupped my face in her hands and said: 'I believe in you. You can do anything you put your mind to. But you have to try hard, and you have to listen. I believe in you, Trey. Believe in yourself.' I remember it like it was yesterday. No matter what I forget later in life, I’ll always remember her substituting a word of affirmation, belief and confidence when she could have offered more discipline and punishment. There are days I cannot remember where I parked my truck, but there is never a day I cannot take you to the spot Iris Ezell talked to me after school. To all the young people who have visited me throughout the years and expressed your desire to run for office or engage in politics because you wanted to 'change the world,' my answer has always been the same. 'If you want to change the world, teach.' Iris Ezell is the reason. She offered a change that no book, campaign or piece of legislation could ever equal. She offered unwarranted belief and affirmation in a young person's life.'

Like Mr. Gowdy, District 7 is so thankful for all our teachers who work daily to change lives – one student at a time. This video and story are beautiful testaments to the impact educators make.
Kelli Hardigree Named D7 Teacher of the Year
Mrs. Kelli Hardigree is a shining example of what all teachers should aspire to be. Her work ethic and desire to help her students and colleagues learn, grow, and build relationships is a true mark of a Teacher of the Year. Mrs. Hardigree, a kindergarten teacher at Pine Street Elementary, was selected as this year’s District 7 Teacher of the Year. The recognition is the highest distinction given to a teacher in D7.

"Kelli Hardigree is unquestionably the most positive person you will meet, and absolutely exudes a love for teaching and learning,” Pine Street Elementary principal Dennis Regnier said. “What truly sets her apart is her incredible understanding of what it takes to ensure high levels of learning for every student in her class.”

"I am extremely grateful to be named Teacher of the Year for Spartanburg School District 7," said Hardigree. "Teaching in a school district where people consistently go above and beyond their job descriptions to meet the needs of the students and families we serve means excellence is no longer outstanding, it is the norm. I am honored to represent such an extraordinary group of colleagues at Pine Street Elementary and throughout our district. Thank you for recognizing my efforts as an educator and for inspiring me each day!"

Congratulations to Mrs. Hardigree and all our school level Teachers of the Year!
District 7 is also proud to present our Support Staff of the Year and our Crystal Apple Awards winners. These support staff excel in their commitment and contributions to their school or departments and to the greater educational community. It is because of them that D7 runs so smoothly. Crystal Apple Awards applaud the contributions of outstanding first-year teachers.
D7 Meets Energy Conservation Milestone Years Ahead of Schedule
District 7 is proud to be a good steward of our planet’s natural resources and environment. To that end, we strive to minimize our electrical energy consumption, while also conserving the precious dollars needed to run our facilities. The way we see it, that isn’t just good business sense, it’s an ethical imperative. And we've been recognized for it.

The district achieved a milestone by reaching the state’s target energy conservation goal of reducing energy consumption for buildings in use. And it reached this goal many years ahead of schedule. As a result, District 7 received the Energy Reduction Milestone Achievement Award from the South Carolina Government Energy OfficeThis citation recognizes a 20% reduction in energy use and places District 7's energy efficiency ahead of 75 percent of all similar facilities nationwide.

This recognition comes on the heels of recent Green Globes certification for Spartanburg High School and Drayton Mills Elementary for eco-friendly building design.

The District 7 Support and Operations Center team, led by Terry Gilmer, Director of Maintenance and Operations; Myles Wilson, former D7 Energy and Safety Coordinator; and Kim Parham, Assets and Energy Coordinator; were responsible for the award as well as identifying the energy-saving solutions that have offered great savings to the district. Mr. Gilmer and Ms. Parham are pictured below with the award and a photograph of their late colleague, Mr. Wilson.
COVID-19 Protocols for 2021-2022
Together with educators across our state and nation, District 7 schools are continuing to do what we do best: teach and care for the children of our community. Over the course of the last few weeks, our teachers and staff have gone above and beyond to keep children as safe as possible while supporting their emotional and mental health and their academic success. Our health services team of nurses is integral to daily school operations, working nights and weekends to conduct quick and thorough contact tracing for every positive COVID-19 case. We give thanks for their tremendous dedication.

This year we have a new suite of COVID- 19 resources available on our website to provide updated information about quarantines, vaccines and everything in between. Please visit this resource center at

District 7 continues to communicate key updates with our families via email and phone calls. If you are not receiving email and phone correspondence from the district and from your child’s school, please update your contact information by notifying your school's front office. Changes MUST be made through your school's front office and can be made anytime throughout the school year.

As a reminder, a COVID-19 walk-in clinic will be held Saturday, September 4 at Spartanburg High School for families, students, and our community. You can receive your first, second, and, if you are eligible, your third dose of the Pfizer vaccine. This clinic is open to anyone 12 years of age and older and will take place from 9:00 a.m. - noon. Children under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Real-Time Parent Access to Student Progress: There's an App for That!
Do you know...? Parents can follow their student’s progress on a regular basis right from their mobile phone or computer - with access to information as teachers post assignments, grades, attendance, and more via the PowerSchool Parent Portal. Setting up your PowerSchool parent account provides a simple way to know how your student is doing throughout the year! Contact your child's school and ask for your Parent Portal Access Letter. It contains everything you need to get started.

Once you have an account, you can either use the PowerSchool website or download the app to your phone from the Apple App Store or Google Play for Android. The app helps you connect on the go and receive notifications when there is new information about your child.

Linking to Libraries = Lifelong Success
September is national library card sign-up month and the perfect time to underscore the benefits of being a card-carrying member of the local library. No library card? No problem! It just takes a few seconds to sign up using your mobile number and start borrowing free digital titles. Get started here:

Need something to occupy your child on the bus, in the car, waiting in line, or just too weary to read one night? Call 864-596-3530 any time for Spartanburg Public Library's "Dial-a- Story" so your child can hear a story. The story selection is updated every week.

The evidence is CLEAR: Children who are read to and who read independently on a regular basis far outperform their peers throughout their academic careers. Be sure to give your child this important boost!
D7's Johnson Publishes First Children's Book
McCracken Middle School's Coordinator of Student Services, Katrina Johnson, didn’t spend the summer just relaxing and enjoying the warm weather with her family. She accomplished a long-standing goal by publishing a children’s book she wrote called Turning Trash Into Treasure.

“This labor of love is finally complete,” Johnson stated. “I journal often and thought one day about collecting my thoughts and placing them in a book. Writing a children's book has always been a desire of mine and as my last child exited school and Covid hit, I decided to finish what I started.”

Turning Trash Into Treasure highlights the childhood memories of a girl who is happy riding around in her dad's big trucks until she realizes her neighbors don't share her family's values. Suddenly, her mindset shifts as a result of peer pressure. But then she learns a valuable lesson about true wealth, and the importance of faith, family and perseverance.  

Johnson said her hope was for more children to see the value in the little things and learn to appreciate each lesson because that is where their "treasure" will be.

Turning Trash Into Treasure is on Amazon's Best Seller list in the category of Children's Values. It is also available at Barnes and Noble and Hub City Bookstore.
D7 In the News
Friday Night Lights
Excitement was in the air for the first football game of the year in Viking Stadium! The beautiful evening was the perfect backdrop to our talented student-athletes, fabulous Viking Band, the spirit of our cheerleaders, and the enthusiasm of fans. Our Vikings are at home this Friday against the Hillcrest High School Rams. Get your tickets now at All tickets are for general admission and seating will be on a first come, first served basis due to the need to physically distance during the pandemic. A limited number of tickets may be available at the gate if tickets have not sold out online.

Please see our 2021 stadium brochure outlining updated policies and game day info - Viking Stadium Guidelines and Procedures If you can't make it to the game, catch the action on Fox Sports 1400 Home of the Vikings at 98.3 FM. Mark your calendars for our Homecoming Game against Clover High School on September 17. Go Vikings!
Scene Around Seven
Super Selfies
From the first day of school, Superintendent Stevens has made connecting with students and teachers one of his highest priorities. Visiting schools several times each week, Mr. Stevens' biggest smiles (behind the mask, of course) come from these special moments!
The First Day of School
Back to School is all about the first day feels! Check out this video from some of the excitement of the first day and your submitted photos hashtagged #D7firstday.
And Much More...
Mary H. Wright Elementary has formed a partnership with Subaru Loves Learning. Six classrooms have been adopted by Vic Bailey Subaru, which is providing teachers with $500 to spend at participating retailers in support of teaching and learning. Teachers pictured L-R: Paula Jones, Mary Britton, Sarah Hodge, and Nora Taylor. Not Pictured: Sally Hernandez, Merica Smith
Drayton Mills students were all smiles as they "took flight" on the first day of school!
Yes, these are red Solo cups - being put to good use as fifth grade scientists impress E.P. Todd science teacher Clay Erps.
Are you ready to put on your cape? Jesse Boyd is ready for their superhero theme this year! When they put out the call, Super JBE answers!
Cleveland Academy guidance counselors are kicking off the year with Minute Meetings for counselors and each student to get to know one another and identify the students' needs.
Pine Street Elementary took time for a shout out to Mrs. Freedom Winstead and Mrs. Marishawn Anderson on the fantastic job they do in the front office. The first weeks of school can be especially busy in school front offices and we so appreciate the hard work of all of those individuals.
Getting to know you! Carver Middle Principal Nicole Thompson and student Averi Jefferson, 11, talk about the start of the school year. Averi is among the new group of students from E.P. Todd who are now attending Carver since the restructuring. Building personal relationships makes all the difference!
The finishing touches are coming along for McCracken Middle's renovation. Students were welcomed back to find their Eagle mascot and school colors beautifully integrated throughout their gym. These touches make it feel more like home!
Daniel Morgan Technology Center teacher Mr. Swanger guides Devin Phipps, first-year welding student and Spartanburg High School sophomore, on how to use the oxy acetylene cutting torch. #DMTCPrepares
Meeting Street Academy rolls out the red carpet to welcome students every year - quite literally! The MSA team was joined by Sir Purr from the Carolina Panthers to cheer students on for a successful year!
No caution here! McCarthy Teszler School is a great place to be - its a place where young minds are under construction!
Angela Eaton's SHS Teacher Cadets prepped for their first Friday Read-Aloud at Drayton Mills. Believe it or not, it takes practice to perform in front of little ones!
The Viking Early College team powered up to welcome students for the new year. Our VEC students earn an associate's degree in college while completing their high school career!
Great classroom discussion from our students in Mrs. Childrers' science class at SHS. They participated in a tie dye lab studying how molecules and surfactants react together.
Save the Date
13- 17
SHS Homecoming Week is September 13- 17
Vikings vs. Clover
Friday, Sept 3
College Colors Day
SHS vs Hillcrest
Saturday, Sept 4
COVID Vaccine Clinic - SHS Arena
Monday, Sept 6
Labor Day - No School
Tuesday, Sept 7
D7 School Board Meeting
Friday, Sept 10
SHS at Boiling Springs
Saturday, Sept 11
Patriot Day
Monday, Sept 13 – Friday, Sept 17
SHS Homecoming Week
Arts in Education Week

Sept 15 – Oct 15
National Hispanic Heritage Month
Wednesday, Sept 15
Homecoming Parade

Thursday, Sept 16
Progress Reports
Friday, Sept 17
Constitution Day
Citizenship Day
SHS vs Clover (Homecoming)
Tuesday, Sept 21
International Day of Peace
Wednesday. Sept 22
First Day of Autumn
Friday, Sept 24
SHS at Dutch Fork
Monday, Sept 26
Johnny Appleseed Day