Thursday, August 15, 2013
Veteran educator Pat Keating expressed his excitement following his appointment as the Aiken County School District’s new adult education director.
Hundreds of Aiken County residents enroll in the adult education program every year, most seeking the General Educational Development certification and others pursuing high school diplomas.
“These are people that need an advocate,” said Keating, the Wagener-Salley High School principal for the past five years. “They need someone to assist them in knocking over the hurdles in their way, showing them how education can help them in the real world.”
Rosa Ishmal is retiring as the adult education director after four years in that position. She has done a good job, said Keating, of promoting the program within the district and allowing it to grow. Keating acknowledged that his decision to leave the high school will remain bittersweet.
“I love the people I work with,” he said. “The community has been so kind and inviting to me. The only reason I pursued this is my fascination about non-traditional learners and the opportunity to help them.”
Keating received a Bachelors of Science in physical education from USC Aiken in 1989 and obtained a master’s degree in educational leadership at Augusta State University in 2006. He spent 16 years as a teacher and coach at Aiken High School. Keating then spent a year each as an assistant principal at North Augusta High School and Aiken High before becoming principal at Wagener-Salley.
He cited the assistance he received from administrators throughout the district along the way. After Keating arrived at Wagener-Salley, then-Area 4 Assistant Superintendent Joy Shealy taught him how to make the transition to a principalship.
“Wagener-Salley is one of the best kept secrets in Aiken County,” Keating said. “Our great group of educators make me look smarter than I am.”
Schools with less than 500 students – Wagener-Salley among them – tend to be penalized in standardized testing, Keating said. As a result, the results don’t reflect the positive gains the students have achieved academically and in such programs as the Army ROTC, FFA, the Family Career and Community Leaders of America and the football team, he said.
Until a new principal is selected, Keating will divide his time between Wagener and the district central office in Aiken.
“Wagener-Salley has been a second home,” he said. “But I’m looking forward to working with an adult education program that can put people in a position to be successful.”
Senior writer Rob Novit is the Aiken Standard’s education reporter and has been with the newspaper since September 2001. He is a native of Walterboro and majored in journalism at the University of Georgia.