Keep Reading. Subscribe Today.

Stay connected with our community and support nationally-acclaimed local news coverage. Sign up for a subscription today. Cancel anytime.

  • Already a subscriber?

Board for Sumter’s 1st charter names school leader after unanimous vote

Founding executive director has track record of success with charter schools

By BRUCE MILLS
bruce@theitem.com
Posted 6/27/20

Khalil Graham will be the founding executive director of Sumter STEAM Charter School.In an 11-0 unanimous vote, the charter’s founding board of directors selected Graham from four finalists for …

This item is available in full to subscribers

Board for Sumter’s 1st charter names school leader after unanimous vote

Founding executive director has track record of success with charter schools

Posted

Khalil Graham will be the founding executive director of Sumter STEAM Charter School.

In an 11-0 unanimous vote, the charter’s founding board of directors selected Graham from four finalists for the post in a special-called meeting Friday at the Sumter Economic Development office building.

Graham, 34, will come to Sumter from Dallas, Texas, where he is a program managing director of leadership development with Teaching Trust, which delivers training and support to transform public schools in Texas.

The organization works in partnership with public school districts, charter school networks, universities and community organizations to strengthen schools and their leaders.

Previously, Graham had teaching and leadership roles with four of the nation’s highest-performing public charter schools, according to a news release from Sumter STEAM Charter. Those positions included serving as a secondary science teacher at New York City-based Achievement First; dean of instruction at YES Prep in Houston, Texas; and as a founding college preparatory principal at both San Antonio, Texas-based IDEA Public Schools and Washington, D.C.-based Friendship Public Charter Schools.

Graham holds education degrees from the University of Richmond, Sacred Heart University and the University of Kentucky as well as an Urban School Leadership Certificate from Harvard University.

According to board Chairman Greg Thompson, the full board was impressed with Graham’s unique educational background in the South and professional track record of success that met the leadership profile the board was looking for.

“Getting this right from the very beginning in every aspect is this board’s priority,” Thompson said in the release, “and we believe that Dr. Graham’s mission-driven and results-oriented approach makes him well-prepared for the challenges of building a high-performing charter school from the ground up.”

A business owner and chairman of the Sumter Development Board, Thompson began pursuing a charter school concept for Sumter County in the first part of 2019.

Graham said he is excited about joining the local charter as its founding executive director and thinks it has “the potential to create life-changing outcomes for its students and families” because of the dedication of the founding board and its supporters.

“I have such admiration and respect for the commitment to excellence I have seen from everyone associated with our charter school,” Graham said, “and I look forward to learning and growing alongside all the talented individuals who are working to make SSC one of the premier learning environments in the country.”

MORE ON SUMTER’S FIRST PUBLIC CHARTER

On April 16, the state Public Charter School District’s six-member board unanimously approved Sumter STEAM Charter School’s application to begin operations in fall 2021 with kindergarten and first-grade levels and an estimated 144 students.

According to state law, charter schools offer alternative educational opportunities separate from traditional public schools and are tuition-free. Charter schools are publicly funded but independently governed, and they are exempt from some state regulations. Most charter schools in the state are required to admit students from anywhere in their sponsor district using a lottery admissions process.

After beginning in the 2021-22 school year, the school plans to eventually build out to 976 total students in grades preK-12.

In its initial years, the charter plans to operate out of the former St. Francis Xavier High School, located at 15 School St., near the downtown area in south Sumter.