Dr. Thelma Sojourner looks back with pride on the time she spent molding young minds in Bamberg County School District 2.
The BCSD2 superintendent will retire on June 30 after 50 years of service in education. She made the announcement on Thursday.
“It's been marvelous. I have no regrets. None at all. I have just enjoyed working with the community, with all of the students that I've taught over the years. I've enjoyed working with the people, the faculty and staff, the administrators. I've enjoyed the entire gamut, all of it,” Sojourner said.
Sojourner was born in Bamberg and raised in Denmark. She began in the district as a math teacher at Denmark-Olar Elementary School in 1971. She later served as a reading teacher.
“From that, I moved on up and started working with the Title I program as the coordinator. From Title I coordinator, I moved into the district office in 1990 as an administrator. I was supervisor of federal programs and instruction. I worked in that position for some number of years and then in 2000, I went to the elementary school and served as a principal for four years,” Sojourner said.
“In 2004, I came back to the district office and served until 2011 as an administrator, director of federal programs and curriculum and instruction. Then in 2011, I became superintendent,” she said.
In September, the Denmark community gathered for the ribbon-cutting and official opening ceremony for the new Bamberg County School District 2 pre-K-12 school.
Sojourner said she decided to quit while she was ahead.
“I figure after 50 years, God didn't promise me he was going to give me 50 more as the superintendent,” she said.
Her retirement comes at a time when Bamberg County school districts 1 and 2 are preparing to consolidate. The state has encouraged districts with fewer than 1,500 students to consolidate administrative and professional services with one or more school districts.
The Bamberg County districts have submitted a consolidation plan to the state. They worked on the plan through the Salkehatchie Education Consortium.
Sojourner said she is optimistic about the future of the two school districts and an eventual merger.
“With consolidation, I trust that it will work in the favor for both districts. I trust that it will work effectively for both districts, but I want to make sure that children are treated fairly and that they are genuinely educated,” she said.
BSD2 Board Chairwoman Beverly P. Boneparte said that Sojourner's years of service are a testament to her dedication to the district.
The board released a statement Thursday, stating, "Dr. Sojourner's service to this district and contributions to this community over five decades is remarkable. For this reason, the board asks the faculty, staff, our students and the Denmark community to join us in expressing our thanks."
Boneparte said Sojourner's retirement will have no impact on consolidation plans.
The board has not yet sat down to discuss the search for a new superintendent, Boneparte said. She said the board members will first mull over dates for a meeting to discuss the search process, and then present the dates to the board attorney.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the BSD2 board is 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 1.
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