Sumter School District's Ivey takes position to lead Thompson's new charter school


A veteran Sumter educator is leaving Sumter School District to help lead a new charter school.

Trevor Ivey will serve as chief of staff for what, if approved, will be Sumter’s first charter school. Ivey, who is leaving his position as director of teacher recruitment and retention for the county-wide school district, was hired by Greg Thompson, president and CEO of Thompson Construction Group Inc., who has spearheaded the formation of a charter school in Sumter after also splitting from the district.

“My goal has always been to strengthen the education profession with a service-oriented heart, and I am delighted to have been invited to do that on a bigger scale without borders and boundaries right here in the Gamecock City,” Ivey said.

The 34-year-old said it is an educator’s dream to be able to build a school from the ground up. He will serve as the management team’s founding administrator and a strategic adviser to Thompson in guiding the organizational foundation for the charter, leading a national search to find the school’s executive director and team.

Ivey brings 12 years of experience and promotions to the table, all beginning in Sumter’s public schools. He holds education degrees from the University of South Carolina, South Carolina State University and Harvard University and is a National Board Certified Teacher.

He spent six years in the classroom at the elementary and middle school level, served as a school administrator for five years that most recently included as Willow Drive Elementary School’s principal and was appointed to his current position in March 2018. He will continue in that role through the start of the new school year and will begin his new position on Oct. 1.

“Many, in fact, may question my decision. Although my work location will change, my vision for the community that has given so much to me as a life-long resident remains unchanged,” Ivey said.

Ivey was named Sumter’s teacher of the year in 2012, making it to be a top-five finalist for statewide teacher of the year in 2013.

The charter school, if approved, will be under the management of the South Carolina Public Charter School District, a statewide district created in 2006. It currently oversees 34 public charter schools that serve a total of almost 20,000 students. Two more are scheduled to open this fall.

Charter schools are publicly funded but independently governed, and they are exempt from some state regulations. They can be sponsored by the SCPCSD, a local school district or a college or university that has state Department of Education approval.

Most charter schools in the state are required to admit students from anywhere in their sponsor district using a lottery admissions process, and they, like all other public schools and in contrast to private schools, do not charge tuition.

Thompson announced in April he is pursuing a charter school after resigning from the school district’s finance committee after more than six years over differences in priorities with the school board.

The vision for the school is a “complete cultural change from the current K-12 public school classroom model and will focus on providing authentic project-based learning as opposed to lectures, where innovation and technology will be critical — similar to a business-like environment,” Ivey said.

Thompson said at the time he wants to open the new school in fall 2020 and model it after one in Ridgeland in the Lowcountry that is focused on career-focused technical training and education.

He has talked publicly for the past few years about wanting the school district to pursue a technical high school or advanced studies school to better prepare students for local industrial careers and college. Land has been purchased and state funding has been secured, but the district has not moved forward with it yet.

“Dr. Ivey will provide the necessary strategic vision, expertise and project-management skills to the management team to enable the charter school to achieve its strategic objectives and become high-performing,” Thompson said in a statement Monday.

There are no charter schools in Sumter. The Mary L. Dinkins Higher Learning Academy Charter School moved from Bishopville in Lee County to a church in Sumter in 2012 but did not have permission to do so and was shut down in 2013 for failing to administer required state tests, giving students, who were all bused from Bishopville, grades for classes not offered and other financial problems.