Tuesday, May 27, 2014
In 2009, Alison Churm, Laurie Reese and Stephanie Hammond were appointed as first-time principals at three North Augusta elementary schools.
They had been friends for years and, “We wouldn't have made it the first three years without each other,” Churm said. “We formed a great bond.”
Now Churm is leaving Belvedere Elementary School, heading to the Upstate to become the principal of Bethany Elementary School in York School District 2.
Churm is looking forward to a new challenge, but regrets leaving her friends, the North Augusta community and the Belvedere teachers.
“The teachers here welcomed me with open arms, and they have been wonderful,” said Churm. “They love those kids, and the community has been extremely supportive. Belvedere is one of the best-kept secrets in the county.”
She is heading back to what she calls her old neck of the woods, where she will be closer to her aging parents.
Careers in education run in her family.
Churm's father was a Kershaw County superintendent, and her sisters are teachers.
She graduated from Presbyterian College with a degree in special education and elementary education.
Her husband was in the military, and they traveled around the world.
When Steve was stationed in Germany, Churm taught in DODDS schools – working with soldiers in adult education classes for compensatory math and reading skills.
“That was the best teaching I ever did,” she said in an earlier interview. “The soldiers were very motivated, because they wanted to be promoted.”
When the Churms moved to North Augusta, she taught at South Aiken High School and then at Paul Knox Middle School.
After receiving a master's degree in education leadership, Churm was appointed as an assistant principal at Paul Knox and then North Augusta Elementary School before getting the Belvedere position.
Last fall, Churm received an award from the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center – the Robert E. Alexander Outstanding K-12 Administrator of the Year.
She was quick to give the credit to her teachers.
“It was a wonderful situation for me,” she said then. “We have veteran teachers, and they know what they're doing … They constantly go to the Ruth Patrick Center, and that's a staple of what we do through science and math days.”
Hammond said she, Churm and Reece have shared strategies for their schools since they were assistant principals.
“We depend on each other,” Hammond said. “I taught all three of Alison's kids. She's a very good friend, and I'm so happy for her. But I'm going to miss her.”