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SDOC SIC Officers Receive State Recognition - March 24, 2016

posted Apr 13, 2016, 7:58 AM by Kyle Horst   [ updated Apr 25, 2016, 1:40 PM by Deborah Wickliffe ]
Lorilei Swanson and Dora Leonard Designated as 2016 SIC Advocates of the Year

The South Carolina School Improvement Council (SIC) Board recently presented the 2016 SIC Advocate of the Year Award to Lorilei Swanson and Dora Leonard of the School District of Oconee County. The award was in recognition of their exceptional leadership and commitment to strengthening SICs, first at Walhalla Middle School and this year at Walhalla High School. This award is presented by the SC-SIC Board of Trustees to individuals who go above and beyond in supporting and promoting SICs in their particular sphere of influence.

Dora and Lorilei were instrumental in the revitalization of the SIC at Walhalla Middle School for the past two years. Prior to that time, the SIC had been meeting, but members were not sure how to move from compliance to goals and activities that would produce meaningful outcomes for their school. Dora was particularly instrumental in enrolling the SIC in a pilot program offered by SC-SIC called Engagement for Outcomes so that members could build the knowledge and skills to grow a strong, effective organization. Dora became the SIC Chair and Lorilei was Secretary and co-chair of the SIC's new Family Engagement committee. A growing and diverse group of SIC members became increasingly engaged in monthly meetings as the SIC worked through the process of identifying areas of school need, setting goals, and deciding on activities to achieve those goals. 

Walhalla Middle School principal Scott Dixon said, “Dora and Lorilei stood out because of their determination and follow-through on commitments to SIC goals and activities. They focused on creating and recruiting volunteers for an afterschool homework club for students, successfully restarted a PTO at their school, and advocated for additional methods of communication with Hispanic families.” An even stronger indicator of success is that the Walhalla Middle School SIC has sustained its growth in the current year without them, building on the work that Dora, Lorilei, and their fellow SIC members put in over those two years. 

As their children transitioned to Walhalla High School, Lorilei and Dora decided to take what they learned from their experience at Walhalla Middle School and share it with the parents, teachers, students, and community members who wanted to be involved in the Walhalla High School SIC. Currently, Lorilei is SIC Chair there and Dora accepted the position of Secretary. 

Together, the two have worked in partnership with their principal, Steve Garrett, to build a strong organizational foundation for their SIC. They have begun to identify areas of school need and to create longer-term SIC goals. They are also working with their principal and school to meet the immediate needs of families whose children will be transferring to Walhalla High next year as the result of a school closure.