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.



Comments (23)


Kalin Halls Posted 5 months ago

Congratulations! Thank you for all that you do for the students of Elloree Elementary School. May God continue to guide you on this journey. The best is yet to come!!

Shanika Smalls-Muir Posted 6 months ago

I am honored to have been invited to leave a comment on behalf of Dr. James. When your leader is supportive, compassionate, understanding, and pushes you to reach your highest level of potential, you have a blessing that is worthy to be acknowledged and honored. As it has been reiterated on numerous occasions, Dr. James has a heart of gold. He loves the students and the staff. I appreciate Dr. James for his energy, excitement, and exceptional work ethic.

Zadie Brown Posted 6 months ago

Dr. James is a very caring individual. He has a gigantic heart when it comes to children. His love for children shows in his everyday life. He is helping shape the lives of every student with whom he contacts.

Keisha James Posted 6 months ago

Congrats and continue to allow God to use you. Endless blessings! KJ

Aisha Williams Posted 6 months ago

Your passion and commitment to the students at Elloree Elementary is shown everyday. You are truly a dynamic leader! It is with honor that I serve under your leadership. I have learned so much about leadership by serving under you. You show grace, courage, sympathy, and empathy in role. You also find a way to bring laughter and joy to all of those around you. You deserve this nomination!

Faith Arthur Posted 6 months ago

Dr. James is a very passionate and caring educator. He looks for opportunities to help his students excel and strives to help each student reach his or her potential.

Mary S.Fogle Posted 6 months ago

Dr. James is a very dedicated, creative, and an innovative educator and principal. He has touched the lives of many and gets everybody excited whenever he enters a room. Especially his students.

Detra Williams Posted 6 months ago

Dr. Derrick James is a very caring person. He is always willing to lend a helping hand. He goes beyond the call of duty to help his students and coworkers. He has a winning personality and is fun to be around. He is great candidate for life changer of the year!

Carolyn S. Watson Posted 6 months ago

Dr. James is a very caring and dedicated person.

Antoinetta Rogers Posted 6 months ago

Dr, James is a very knowledgeable and charismatic educator. He has very innovative classroom ideas and genuinely cares about the needs of the students, faculty and staff.

Lakekia Lewis Posted 6 months ago

Dr. James brings laughter to any room he enters. He is passionate about education and his students being the best they can be. I consider him a great friend, brother, and colleague that genuinely cares about others. He is extremely passionate about his students and loves what he does. He is the "mad scientist" because of his love for science.

Charlene Stokes Posted 6 months ago

Dr. James is one of the most intelligent, caring, thoughtful people I know. Over the past 10+ years, he has consistently modeled integrity, honesty, and sincere thoughtfulness. Dr. James deserves this award because he demonstrates what Christianity looks like be positively impacting the lives of others, including mine.

Cynthia King Posted 6 months ago

Dr. James, loves the students and staff members at Elloree Elementary School. He is funny, activate and man who love the Lord. Yes! The students love him and admire him as well. Your acts of kindness have touched the lives of so many people throughout this two years you have served at EES. I thank and appreciate your willingness to service in this area. You have truly made a great difference in our community and school. Thanks for being the person you are. Mrs. King

Carla Moody - Conyers Posted 6 months ago

Dr. James was my science teachers when I was a freshmen in high school. He always encouraged me to do the best I can and never given up. I remember Dr. James asking me what was my plans after high school. I told him I wanted to be a early childhood teacher and he push me to go in that direction. I can honestly say I’m a preschool teacher for 3k and I love ?? it. Thanks to Dr. James for all his love and support.

Kimberly Byrd Posted 6 months ago

I’ve known Mr. James since I was a young girl attending Upward Bound at Claflin University. He has always been dedicated to his students. He made me love science. I’ve grown up to become a teacher myself and give credit to Mr. James and others like him who have a passion for shaping young lives in a positive way. Thanks for being a real life changer. Keep doing what you do.

Sandra Isaac Posted 6 months ago

Teaching/mentoring young people is a calling/ministry, and you answered the call. Watching you with your children, the love and care are very obvious. The qualities you possess are the qualities that change lives. Keep up the good work.

William E. smith Posted 6 months ago

Dr. James is a dedicated principal at his school. He does things to motivate his students to excel i the class. He makes everyone at school feel special. He recognizes the the work of his staff from the teaching staff to the custodians and bus drivers. He truly is one a kind.

LaTonya Nelson Posted 6 months ago

Dr. James has many talents and gifts, but the one that stands out the most to me is his ability to bring joy wherever he goes. The smile that you see on his picture, is what I see every time I am around him. He is truly a passionate and dedicated educator that brings out the very best in others. He is a great example of a life changer because he does it every day. Kudos to you Dr. James! Much love my brother!

Sharon Hampton Posted 6 months ago

Dr. James is a great person to know. He is extremely knowledgeable in the field of Science. He has a heart of gold. Dr. James personality is phenomenal.

Elizabeth Humphrey Posted 6 months ago

Dr. James, a great man, a leader and a role model. He always have the crowd smiling where ever he goes. He lives life to the fullest, enjoys working with students and his staff. There is never a dull moment with him. He also has great relationships with his parents and especially in the community. He is so deserving of the Life Changer of the Year Award. Good luck Dr. James. Love ya much and stay humble.

Dr. Mary Williams Posted 7 months ago

Dr. James, One of the funniest men I know. One that knows how to bring a smile to anyone’s face and a smile to anyone’s heart with the presence of his face and smile. You’re such an awesome person. Your personality has touched so many people. Your acts of kindness is much needed. Keep being who you are. We love and appreciate you. Love, Dr. Williams

Vivian McWhorter-Hubbard Posted 7 months 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 7 months 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.