Like many other educators throughout Aiken County, Wagener-Salley High School principal Pat Keating was surprised to learn that Kevin O'Gorman, the associate superintendent for instruction, is leaving in June for a similar position in Berkeley County.
Keating became a first-time principal in 2008, the same year Superintendent Dr. Beth Everitt appointed O'Gorman to his current position.
"Kevin was a big help, teaching me about data-driven instruction and curriculum," said Keating. "He showed me how to build an initiative that was manageable in moving our students so they would get meaningful instruction."
Over the last four years, O'Gorman has spearheaded the district's new literacy model and has been coordinating the transition to national Common Core academic standards.
In Berkeley County, O'Gorman has been appointed as the chief academic officer. He will work in the Office in Instructional Accountability with duties related to special education, federal programs, instruction, curriculum and professional development.
"I've thought long and hard about this," O'Gorman said. "I see it as a chance to grow professionally. I've learned a lot in Aiken and have developed a lot of close friends and good working relationships with people. I'll have nothing but good memories of my time in Aiken."
He came to Aiken in 2002 as the Schofield Middle School assistant principal, then spent four years as the North Aiken Elementary School principal. He initially asked the staff to express their vision for the school.
"We wanted to bring up test scores and build up the reputation of North Aiken," O'Gorman. "Students deserved to have a great education when they walked out the door."
When he arrived at North Aiken, the school had received two major federal grants with a focus on reading. That gave O'Gorman the opportunity look at best practices, many of them now incorporated into the district's literacy program model.
Everitt took office as superintendent in January 2008 with the associate superintendent's position later becoming vacant.
"I was looking for someone who had successfully led a school to improve student achievement by looking at improving instruction by using data," Everitt said. "Kevin had done all that and had led a lot of professional development with his staff. I was impressed with his leadership and thought he could bring something to the whole county."
The literacy model, O'Gorman said, focuses on immersion in specific strategies to address strong and struggling readers in a variety of ways. Teachers now focus more on small-group and individual instruction to help students with a wide range of abilities.
From the start, O'Gorman was pleased with Everitt's focus on instruction and student achievement. Both have emphasized the need to include special education students along with general education students when making instructional decisions.
"I couldn't be more thankful to Dr. Everitt," O'Gorman said. "I appreciate the guidance and the opportunities she has given me. She taught me a lot."