His Twitter handle is @AlfordOnTheGo, but the pace has slowed down significantly for Dr. Sean Alford since his resignation as superintendent of the Aiken County Public School District last month.
“I have been doing a lot of resting,” said Alford, who was at the Rotary Club of Aiken meeting Monday at Newberry Hall. “My mother lives here in Aiken, so I have spent a lot of time with her.”
He said he plans to remain active in the community.
“I really have looked into the ways that I can continue to engage and support the wonderful things that are happening here in this community,” Alford said. “Probably the thing I’ve done the most is just kind of admired the tremendous support of the comprehensive community. I am very humbled, very appreciative.”
Alford is a Rotary member, and he was attending a club meeting for the first time since he left his school district post.
The reception for Alford was warm. Many people stopped to speak to him at the table where he was sitting. They also approached Alford after the meeting to shake his hand.
Alford’s tenure ended abruptly and with controversy. Three members of the Aiken County School Board resigned following the announcement of his departure.
Asked for his thoughts about the turmoil, Alford replied: “I don’t want anybody to feel bad about anything. I want the kids and the school district to be successful. I don’t want to contribute anything that would hinder that in any way, shape or form.”
Alford, 49, also talked to the Aiken Standard about the report card ratings released last week by the S.C. Department of Education and his thoughts about his future.
The report card ratings showed that 80 percent of the local district’s schools experienced gains and improvements in student achievement.
In addition, Aiken County had the highest percentage of excellent, good and average schools among the state's 10 largest school districts.
“There is a sense of pride, but that pride is not self-centered at all,” Alford said. “The pride that I have is in the leaders and the teachers and the families that were willing to sacrifice a little bit of themselves and work together and see what we could really accomplish as a team.
“I’m just happy that the community can say and show that we are amongst the best academically in the state of South Carolina.”
The potential for such success in Aiken County has “always been here,” Alford added.
In August 2015, he officially began his stint as Aiken County’s superintendent.
Alford traveled to and from his new office in a Ford F-150 truck.
“I would ask the leadership team to look out the window and tell them, ‘That is one of the prettiest trucks that you will see in the world,’ and we would laugh,” Alford remembered. “I said, ‘I didn’t bring any problems to Aiken in that truck. The problems were here when I got here. But I also didn’t bring any answers. So the answers are here, too.’
“Then we just focused over the next four years on finding the answers,” Alford continued. “We had committed people, who were willing to give up a little of themselves, to hold hands and to work together, and they’re still finding the answers.
“This is only the beginning,” he concluded. “I expect the schools in this community to excel beyond what anybody ever imagined. It will be wonderful. Wherever I am and whatever I’m doing, I will be able to look back and say, ‘Hey, God bless Aiken.’”
As for his professional future, Alford has no concrete plans yet.
“I really don’t know,” he said. “I am at a point in my life where substance is probably the most important thing. So whatever it is the good Lord has for me to do, I want to be able to help other people in a substantive way. I’ve learned to be patient and allow Him to present it in his time, so that’s where I am.”
For now, Alford, who lives in the Beech Island area, plans to remain in Aiken County.
“I’ve got a son who will be graduating here next May,” Alford said. “This is my very last (youngest) child, No. 6. He is proud to be a Bulldog. He loves Silver Bluff High School. We wouldn’t dare do anything to deprive him at all of that experience. We will stay here as a family.
“My wife (Stephanie) works at Rural Health Services, and she’s really enjoying the people over there. She enjoys her job as a human resources director. I’ve said for years, ‘Aiken is a wonderful place to live, work and play.’ I’m not in a rush to go anywhere else. I’m not.”
Alford also reflected on his experience as Aiken County’s schools superintendent.
“My time in Aiken has been the joy of my professional career,” he said. “I consider myself to be tremendously blessed to be able to work with a community that is this supportive.
“You just don’t find this kind of synergy in many places. To have an opportunity to experience it, that’s all a blessing. I am a blessed man. I am. That, to me, is my takeaway. I am a very blessed man. Not everybody has had an opportunity to do what I have done.”
Alford believes the leadership team he left behind, including Interim Superintendent King Laurence, is strong and capable of keeping the local school district moving forward.
“King is a member of the leadership team,” Alford said. “That leadership team is stellar, and they will support King. They, as a team, are going to do a magnificent job. I’m very excited for him and that team.”