Being the chief of staff of the largest school district in the tri-county area has its challenges. But most importantly what it has is meaning. The day to day office stuff is exactly what you would imagine — hectic, busy, and lots of long days. But every single moment of that is worth it, knowing that I’ve had some hand in educating the children of Charleston County.

As a mother whose children attend Charleston County schools, I want the best possible education for them. As a product of CCSD myself, I want to ensure that children of this community receive the same amazing education I was afforded. And as a woman of color, I want to make sure that every black boy and girl who comes after me gets a fair and equitable opportunity as great as that of their peers.

Every day at CCSD, the Board of Trustees, our Superintendent Dr. Gerrita Postlewait, and our amazing leaders and educators implement unique and groundbreaking ways to educate our over 50,000 students. They displayed their amazing talents in March 2020 when the unprecedented occurred and COVID-19 caused a nationwide shutdown. Without missing a beat, CCSD educators continued to teach students virtually through the end of the year.

The business of running a school district this large is complex. The rapid pace of technological change, coupled with ever more complicated state regulations and the need to work with partners, colleagues, and legislators all over the state means district leaders are stretched thin. That’s often where I come in. I am often the liaison between our leaders and the state Department of Education. I am often charged with advocating for our district-wide initiatives, but first and foremost, I advocate for our students who are the heart of our work.

My position with the district requires me to work side-by-side with the top decision-makers. With Superintendent Dr. Gerrita Postlewait at the helm, CCSD has dramatically increased the percentage of students who are ready to step successfully and productively into careers, college, and life.

Today in the Charleston region, high-wage, high-skill, high-demand careers in established and emerging industries await our graduates like never before. CCSD Career & Technology Education Programs of Study are aligned with our local talent needs to provide seamless pathways for all students to become “future-ready” for college, career, and citizenship. We are fortunate that we live in a region that is flourishing with jobs in a variety of industries and provides many opportunities to find your career fit.

When economic development projects, like new manufacturing or distribution centers, are proposed in the Charleston region, hiring the right talent is often at the top of the decision-makers’ list of needs. Thankfully, CCSD enjoys excellent relationships with both business/industry partners and post-secondary education partners in the Charleston region and beyond.

These partnerships ensure students have options for enrollment, employment, or enlistment that best fits their needs after graduation from high school. Professional school counselors and career specialists collaborate with teachers to connect students with specific opportunities aligned with students’ career interests and natural talents.

Given the high demand in the Charleston region for talent, especially individuals with specific industry certifications offered through CCSD Career and Technology Education (CTE) Programs of Study, a seamless post-secondary transition to employment is a terrific option for many students. In fact, many students begin a relationship with a local employer before graduation via internships and apprenticeship programs. Many companies include education as a key benefit and offer tuition support for associate and bachelor level programs. The military is included as well, and Joint Base Charleston offers many options to work in the region after enlistment or as a civilian contractor.

Erica Taylor is Chief of Staff for the Office of Strategy and Communication for Charleston County School District.

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