NEWBERRY COUNTY — Beverly Leslie, current assistant principal at Mid-Carolina High School, is looking forward to the next step in her career when she takes the helm as the Director of the Newberry County Career Center.
Leslie was officially announced into the position on April 28. Her first official day is July 1.
From Batesburg-Leesville, Leslie attended Batesburg-Leesville High School and attended Newberry College where she obtained a degree in Political Science.
Leslie said she was the first college graduate in her family. Her mother, Kathryn Durst, was a single parent and was determined that Leslie was going to college to get an education, she said.
“She’s always encouraged me,” Leslie said of her mother.
Leslie said she thought at one point she wanted to be an attorney. She had worked for the Law Office of Samuel M. Price, Jr. while at Newberry College and went on to work with him full time following graduating from Newberry College in 1977.
From there, Leslie worked with Pope and Hudgens, P.A. before deciding she needed more education and advancement.
“I went to the University of South Carolina and got a Masters in Library Science and got my teaching certification at same time,” Leslie said.
While attending USC, Leslie said her husband Lee became “Mr. Dad” to help take care of their children — Meagan Leslie, who is now 31, and Meredith Hamm, who is 29.
“My degrees are definitely family earned,” Leslie said.
In 1988, Leslie went to Mid-Carolina High School to work as a Media Specialist in the library and stayed there until 2001 when she went to Newberry High School as the Media Specialist and Technology Coordinator. She also worked with the administrative team.
While at NHS, Leslie said she worked on getting her administrative degree from Clemson University, finishing in 2006. With her degree in Educational Leadership, she was certified as a secondary principal or supervisor.
In the fall of 2007, Leslie went back to Mid-Carolina High School as the assistant principal.
“I’ve been here ever since,” Leslie said of MCHS.
As the assistant principal, Leslie is in charge of curriculum and instruction. Although Leslie said this falls under a lot of different areas, she also does a lot of work with teachers and their re-certification process.
“I love being at Mid-Carolina. It’s like home to me because I’ve been here so long,” Leslie said. “I love the community and the students.”
When the director position became available for the NCCC, Leslie said she knew she wanted to apply and did so immediately, as a lot of people encouraged her to.
Leslie said she’s looking at the Career Center as the next step, an advancement and a new opportunity. As the director, she will get to work with the faculty and at NHS again as well as Whitmire and Mid-Carolina schools combined, which she said was a good situation overall.
Although Leslie said she has received questions regarding her happiness at her current position at MCHS, she said that in no way effected her choice to leave.
“I’ve really enjoyed what I’m doing,” Leslie said. “I’m not leaving because I’m not happy.”
Leslie said she was told about 900 students go through the NCCC each year and one of her goals was to do a lot of recruitment from the middle and high schools to increase the size of the program.
“I want to do a lot of networking with the area business and industry in order to determine what their needs are so that the Career Center graduates will meet the needs of our business and industry,” Leslie said.
Leslie said she wants to see what the program has and ensure t is growing the way the business community needs it to grow.
“We want to get college and career-ready graduates,” Leslie said. “That’s our goal.”
Looking back on her time as assistant principal, Leslie said her focus has been on increasing the graduation rate and that she has worked hard with attendance and ensuring that students achieve their seat time to be graduates.
“I do a lot with talking to parents and students to make sure that they come to school and actually get everything they need to graduate,” Leslie said. “Our graduation rate has definitely increased.”
Leslie went through the Assistant Principal Program for Leadership Excellence (APPLE) in 2009 and the Developing Aspiring Principals Program (DAPP)in 2013, both of which are sponsored by the South Carolina Association of School Administrators (SCASA). Both are preparatory programs to be a principal, Leslie said.
“I’m very excited and looking forward to the opportunity to work in a different environment, but with the same school district of Newberry,” Leslie said.