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D7 Builds and Celebrates the New Era Ahead

In his final year as superintendent, Dr. Russell Booker officially kicked off the start of the new school year with a robust welcome to the 1,500 D7 teachers and staff, most wearing shirts with their school and inspirational slogans, gathered together at the Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium on August 14. The spirited back- to-school pep-rally billed as D7builds - Celebrating a New Era - has become the perfect opportunity to welcome teachers back from their summer break and set the tone for the year ahead. 

Dr. Booker on stage MIchael Bonner on stage

With the new department of diversity and inclusion now in place, Dr. Booker shared that a strategic approach to close the gaps for students exists within our school district. A goal, he noted this year, is to dig into data and the tough questions about racial equity in our community. “Open minds and open hearts guide our work. We don’t yet know the “how” or even “what” our diversity and inclusion initiative will look like, but we yearn to understand the “why” and to grow together in that understanding so that we can deepen our efforts.”

Attendees were inspired by keynote speaker Michael Bonner. "Before you are a teacher, you are a human being," said Bonner, a North Carolina Elementary teacher who has appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres show after his class's educational music video went viral. "Who the teacher is is more important than what he or she teaches."

Michael is known as a visionary leader who strives to create a positive mindset in each student. 

A great way to start the new school year is the announcement of our Teachers of the Year. Our 2019-20  Teachers of the Year are: Early Learning Center, Ashley Moss; Jesse Boyd Elementary, Claire Louka; Cleveland Academy of Leadership, Brandi Dendy; Drayton Mills Elementary, Rosemary Foux; Mary H. Wright, Kenesha Hardy; Pine Street Elementary, Mary Ann Stoddard; E.P. Todd School, Crystal Weathers Carver Middle, Valarie Wilkerson; McCracken Middle, Priscilla Martin, Spartanburg High; Thomasina Guffey; the McCarthy Teszler School, Sallie McKissick; and Whitlock Flexible Learning Center, Michael Walker. 

crystals weathers

As of this week, Crystal Weathers, Science teacher and E.P. Todd’s Teacher of the Year, can add another title to her name – the 2019-2020 District 7 Teacher of the Year.

"This honor is especially notable," said Superintendent Booker, because this is the highest distinction given to a teacher in District 7 and speaks volumes about her gifts and talents as a teacher."
During the opening celebration is the opportunity to applaud the work of our first-year teachers with the Crystal Apple Awards. The Crystal Apple honorees are: from the Early Learning Center, Madison Vanderlip; Jesse Boyd Elementary, Kesonia Jones; Cleveland Academy of Leadership, Christine Moreno; Drayton Mills Elementary, Sarah Watson; Mary H. Wright, Bree Burnette; Pine Street Elementary, Mackenzie Rogers; E.P. Todd School, Tabitha Ball; Carver Middle, Dianicka Harris; McCracken Middle, Caroline Stewart, Spartanburg High; Hilary Boyd; Whitlock Flexible Learning Center, Alison Maybry. 

bree barneett crystal apple winner

The 2018-19 District 7 Crystal Apple Award recipient is Bree Burnette.  

Dr. Booker expressed his gratitude throughout the morning. “I so am honored to be a part of this phenomenal team of educators in District 7, professionals who are devoted to nurturing the talent and potential of all of our students. Each and every day I witness the legacy of tradition, excellence and innovation brought about by your transformative teaching and learning.”  

Today IS a celebration – here’s to the year ahead, and the new phenomenal era ahead!

teachers at the auditorium   band cheerleaders in front of the auditorium