New super says he’s prepared and eager to take the reins at FCSD

FCSD Superintendent Dr. Tony Hemingway | Photo: Barbara Ball

WINNSBORO – Fairfield County School District’s new superintendent, Dr. Tony Hemingway, says he believes in and is passionate about outcomes for students. His record of success in producing high-performing outcomes for students during his 25-year career in the Clover school district is a testament to that belief.

After 10 years of teaching at the elementary level, Hemingway became assistant principal and then principal in the largest Title 1 school in the Clover school district.

“When you look at our students’ achievements, we had great gains, well above the state in performance, and sometimes out performing some of the non-Title 1 schools in our district,” says Hemingway. “Those results came from a laser focus on leveraging a high-quality instructional environment.”

“Successful outcomes are what the school board wants for the students in Fairfield County School District,” says FCSD Board Chairman Henry Miller, “and we feel confident that’s what we can look forward to under Dr. Hemingway’s leadership. I want to point out that in his previous job as Chief Human Resources and Strategic Planning Officer in the Clover School District, he was recently named the South Carolina Association of School Administrators 2024 Personnel Administrator of the Year. So, he brings with him successful outcomes on many different levels,” Miller says. “That’s what we were looking for.”

Strategies, Feedback, Coaching

Even in his previous role, Hemingway says he always found opportunities to work with teachers, principals and assistant principals on building leadership capacity and building the structures that support high quality teaching and learning.

Hemingway says this is accomplished by supplying teachers with the best strategies, feedback and coaching.

“It’s important for school leaders to know and understand what good teaching is so that when they walk into a classroom to observe, they can recognize high quality instruction based on research and on their knowledge of the best strategies and structures,” Hemingway says. “It amounts to knowing, understanding and having a common language for what good teaching is.”

He says he wants leaders in the District to recognize best practices that are going to help children become engaged in learning and produce results that demonstrate their readiness.

While Hemingway won’t officially become Superintendent of the District until July 1, since he was hired in April, he has spent much of his time observing in the District’s classrooms and having conversations with principals and administrators about what they look for in classrooms to make sure that what’s being taught aligns with high quality instruction.

“I had some very rich experiences watching what’s happening in some of the classrooms. At Geiger Elementary in Ridgeway, I even had my fifth grade teacher bug bite me,” he said, laughing. “I jumped in and said, ‘Hey, let me help you with this.’”

“Seeing how children are engaged and asking them, ‘What are you learning?’ is revealing. If they’re able to talk to you about what they’re learning and how they’re going to be able to use what they’ve learned, then you know that teacher is doing a great job,” he says. “And if they’re not, we need to know how to coach them to do a better job.”

New Chapter

Hemingway says coming to Fairfield is not only an exciting new chapter for him, but one that he feels prepared for.

“I feel I have a lot of support. Dr. Green has done some remarkable work in Fairfield schools and I want to expand and continue the excellence already established,” he says.

“I recognize that there are opportunities for improvement. I look at things and say, ‘How can we take it up a step? How can we do something different to expect a different outcome?’ That’s what I believe in, continuous improvement,” he says. 

“I am passionate about getting our achievement scores at and above the state average. It can be done,” he says. “We have brilliant kids here and passionate teachers. And so there are structures we can put in place to have a common instructional language and common practices for success.

“We have students who are featured in the newspaper for high achievement. Good things are happening in pockets all over the district. How do we spread that kind of achievement across the District consistently?” he asks.

“It’s coaching, observing, modeling for teachers – all of these right things they need to do with students so they experience high quality instruction,” he says.

Dr. Hemingway following a breakfast meeting with the Superintendent’s Student Advisory Group in mid-May. | Contributed


In the Clover School District, Hemingway spearheaded a number of initiatives for students such as “Fries for Guys,” a book club for boys, and “Free-throw Fridays,” designed to empower all students to strive for academic excellence.

Hemingway says that while he plans to hone in on some initiatives in the District, he says he will determine those initiatives after talking with staff and teachers.

“I’ve been doing a lot of one-on-one with district leadership, board members, teachers and parents,” he says. “I’m having a meeting with principals and instructional staff on June 10, and other meetings with administration on June 25 and 26. At those meetings I plan to take all the things I’ve been hearing and learning here at FCSD and present them to the whole group and say, ‘What’s important in FCSD? What are those things we’re so good at that we feel should be duplicated across the district. From those meetings we’ll collaborate and determine what initiatives we feel will result in our students’ being high performers.

“That’s what I’ll be doing this summer, but my main focus remains on finding ways to strengthen teaching and learning in Fairfield,” Hemingway says.

Feels At Home

Beyond his professional endeavors in Clover, Dr. Hemingway was deeply involved in the community, serving on multiple boards and organizations. Notably, he was a member of the Greater Clover Chamber of Commerce and the Claflin University Alumni Association, where he received the Distinctive Alumnus Award for leading the Annual College Scholarship Fundraising Drive. Dr. Hemingway holds degrees in Elementary Education from Claflin University and a Doctorate in Education Leadership from South Carolina State University.

Hemingway says he has felt sincerely welcomed by the Fairfield community.

“From the first time I came here to interview, I fell in love with the community and the people here. Since being named superintendent, I’ve had opportunities to visit different events sponsored by different groups and churches,” he says. “Everyone has been wonderful. I grew up in the small town of Marion, so it feels like home.

“I’m looking forward to working with and for everyone in Fairfield, particularly the students,” Hemingway says. “I will be working to make sure they are successful, that they are engaged and have learning opportunities that will prepare them for college and the work force. That is the mission of an educator.

“No matter what your role is in education,” he says, “you’re always a teacher.”

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