LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Derrick James

Position: Principal
School: Elloree Elementary School
School District: Orangeburg County School District 3
City, State: Elloree, SC

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Music that Describes Derrick

Dr. Derrick James was nominated by Sybrenda Holiday, a family member.

Dr. James is a phenomenal educator and principal! He loves every student, which is evident as he greets them at the front door most mornings with a big, exciting greeting. He has only been at Elloree Elementary for two years. In that time, the school report card rating went from below average to excellent!

Dr. James gives his personal money to his students, teachers, cafeteria and maintenance staff, and bus drivers. He visits his students if they're in the hospital and brings them special gifts. Before he came to his school, parent participation and involvement was minimal. Today, the school averages approximately 300 parents per event!

Dr. James supports his teachers and is often in the classroom with them, not only to observe, but to team teach and highlight their strengths in their subject area. One student in particular. who used to be a bully, has made a 180 degree turnaround to a very positive student. This student happily and boldly states, "I don't do bad things anymore because Dr. James believes in me and expects better from me."

For American Education Week, Dr. James allowed the students to serve as the principal, teachers, administrative assistants, guidance counselors, etc. He calls his cafeteria/culinary staff the, "Classy Cooks," and adorned them in personalized monogrammed aprons and chef's hats. On Facebook, he posts something positive and phenomenal about his school and its accomplishments several times a week. He is super excited about everything that goes on in his school, and he is always out front leading the way.

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Comments (2)

Vivian McWhorter-Hubbard Posted 8 days ago

While at Dr. James school the other day, Elloree Elementary, I heard him giving the school dismissal to his students, faculty, and satff. I immediately said, I have to meet this principal.Why? From his voice tone, I could tell he had the upmost respect and love for his students at the school and I could tell his comments would be welcomed by all. For example, while reminding his students to push forward in all that they do he made the comment to them, "don't look back and turn into a pillar of salt". I chuckled at the remark. After introductions, he welcomed me into his office and we discussed the LifeChangeroftheYear Award. I was pushing him to name one of his teachers he knew deserved the recognition. Well, the more he talked about and praised his wonderful staff for the school's academic rise, giving his faculty / staff all kinds of the kudos; I instantly knew, that a school whose report card went from the bottom to the top---WITHIN A YEAR, had to have an Amazing leader! As our conversation continued, I found out Dr. James had little parental involvement in his school. He connected the dots and had his students bring their parents to school. Instilling this mindset into his students, lead their parents to become a part of the Elloree Elementary school family- their input and involvement helped teachers reach their students' potential which was almost nonexistent, now has turned into a goldmine! Way to Go Dr. Davis in reaching the potential of All Stakeholders involved!

Heather Gosselin Posted 10 days ago

I am a mother of 4 students that attend Dr James school in elloree and I can say if it wasn't for Dr James my children especially Draven would not have made the progress that they have. Last year Draven started his first year in school. Draven has ADHD as well as ODD and school was very hard on him. We had days where draven would completely shut down and wouldn't want to go to school. Then he made a connection with Dr James. Dravens behavior at home as well as at school has improved greatly because of Dr. James. At the end of last year draven unfortunately fell extremely sick and had to be hospitalized for a very long time and wasn't able to finish his last few weeks of kindergarten. Draven was extremely upset about not graduating. Dr James took it upon himself to drive the ling trip to MUSC to bring Draven his graduation ceremony stuff and spend time with him in the hospital. It had been the first time in 3 weeks that Draven smiled. When Draven got out and was loosing to much wait from not eating while being sick Dr James found out the only thing we could get him to eat was Mc Donald's. So he took it upon himself to go to local Mc Donald's and ask for donations so Draven would eat. I personally have watched Dr James while I shadowed Draven in school this year take time with multiple children. There could never be another Dr James. He is an inspiration to us all and I only hope that my children will grow up to be half the man Dr. James is.