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Published on June 20th, 2015 | by Millennium Magazine Staff

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Dr. Karen Woodward announces her retirement

LEXINGTON, S.C. — The Lexington County School District One Board of Trustees announces that Superintendent Karen C. Woodward, Ed.D., plans to retire.

Board Chair Debra L. Knight reflected, “We have been privileged to have Dr. Woodward at Lexington One’s helm for the past 15 years. She has provided strong leadership and guided us through significant change, while keeping our students as the major focus of her work. Lexington School District One and Lexington County have benefited from her commitment to our youth.

“We will work to make this a smooth transition and hope to have a new superintendent selected by spring of 2016. Recently, in a special called board meeting, the board agreed to contract with Coleman Lew & Associates, Inc. for their assistance in our search for her successor.”

About her upcoming retirement Woodward stated, “I’m honored to work alongside Lexington One’s outstanding staff, students and parents. The work we are doing in Lexington One is the result of a very strong, caring team committed to excellence as they prepare children for life beyond school. We have incredibly competent, creative teachers, wonderfully capable administrators and dedicated support staff who do the right thing and put children first. I want to thank all employees and the entire Lexington community.

“It has been a privilege to work closely with our School Board members. Their commitment to and advocacy for our children is unyielding. They volunteer countless hours on behalf of our children, and their impact has been exceptional.”

With 31 years of experience as a superintendent and a 50-year-long career in public education, Dr. Woodward has led Lexington County School District One during a time of unprecedented national and state change in public education and growth in Lexington County. During the past 15 years (2000–2001 to 2014–2015), Lexington One has grown by nearly 500 new students per year and remains one of the fastest-growing school districts in the state, ranking seventh in total enrollment.

Woodward became superintendent in Lexington County School District One on July 1, 2000, when the district had about 16,000 students and 16 schools, 2,148 employees, an applied technology center and an alternative learning center program.

Today, Woodward serves as the district’s Chief Executive Officer while administering its policies, executing board decisions, supervising the day-to-day operation of the district and leading the district with vision. Under her guidance, the district now has more than 24,500 students from pre-kindergarten through grade 12. To keep up with that growth, the district has built 14 new schools since 2000. As a result, almost 3,700 employees support 30 schools (17 elementary, seven middle, five high, one technology center), an alternative learning program and seven Centers for Advanced Studies.

Of Woodward’s retirement State Superintendent Molly Spearman said, “Dr. Woodward has had a tremendous impact on the lives of thousands of students, teachers and education leaders across the state of South Carolina. In fact, she’s impacted my own career.

“We appreciate the contributions that she has made not only at the local level, but throughout the state. Dr. Woodward is the epitome of a visionary leader and communicator. It has been my pleasure to observe her communication and leadership skills for over 20 years. There is no one who has done it better.”

Widely recognized for her forward thinking and innovative leadership, Woodward led the district through the bold move to make World Language a part of the core instructional program in middle schools along with English, mathematics, science and social studies for all students. The initiative also uses performance based ratings instead of letter grades. That World Language program is nationally recognized and supports Dr. Woodward’s vision of having 75% of the district’s students acquire intermediate proficiency in a foreign language by the year 2020. This vision is also being realized through partial-immersion world language programs in six elementary schools in either Spanish, German, French or Mandarin.

Ultimately, Woodward leads a district that thrives because of her ability to think creatively and strategically about the long-term opportunities in the school system and in education at large. Under her leadership, the district was selected to join Digital Promise’s League of Innovative Schools, a national network of school districts committed to demonstrating, evaluating and scaling innovation. Woodward has led Lexington One in a bold, visionary redesign of the district with a 21st century system of learning. The district’s Schools of the Future — Now! initiative focuses on preparing a new generation of leaders and global citizens, and stems from Dr. Woodward’s commitment to establishing a culture that embraces innovation and provides a support system for change and continuous improvement.

Committed to advancing public education not just in her own district but throughout South Carolina, Woodward repeatedly takes on leadership roles in statewide efforts to improve educational opportunities for all children. Woodward served on the task force that created the South Carolina Education and Economic Development Act, and chaired the Curriculum Framework and Guidance Committee. She led the South Carolina Statewide Task Force for World Class Funding and currently serves on the New Carolina Education and Workforce Development Task Force that looks at comprehensive solutions to South Carolina’s education and workforce challenges.

She has a lengthy list of accomplishments and honors and has been the recipient of numerous local, regional and national honors and awards in recognition of her vision and commitment to children and learning. Most recently, the South Carolina Foreign Language Teachers Association presented Dr. Woodward with the 2015 Friend of World Languages Award.

In 2014, the national School Superintendents Association presented Dr. Woodward with the 2014 AASA Women in School Leadership Award, which recognizes the exceptional leadership of active, front-line female administrators who make a difference in the lives of students every day.

In June 2013, she received the Greater Lexington Chamber of Commerce’s H. O’Delle Harman Award, which recognizes educational and community humanitarianism. In 2011, she was chosen as one of the 50 most influential people in the Greater Columbia area by The Greater Columbia Business Monthly magazine.

The S.C. Commission on Women and the Columbia College Alliance for Women presented her with the Women of Achievement Pioneer Award. Other honors include SCASA’s William B. Harley Administrator of the Year, National Superintendent of the Year Finalist, South Carolina Superintendent of the Year, Palmetto Pillar Award for Individual Achievement from the Information Technology Council of the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce, S.C. Business Woman of the Year and recognition as one of the Top 10 Tech Savvy Superintendents in the Nation.

She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Carolina and master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Georgia.

“As I retire, I will continue my unwavering support of public education. I believe that education is the door to opportunity and a good quality of life. Public education opens that door to millions of young people and empowers them for their future. Our democracy, our economic prosperity and our individual development rest on the foundation that a public education is available to each and every one of us. It is the pathway to a brighter future,” said Woodward.

Mary Beth Hill
Chief Communications Officer
Lexington County School District One
100 Tarrar Springs Road
Lexington, SC 29072

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