The Chesterfield County School Board has selected a new superintendent to take the place of its retiring longtime schools leader.
Harrison Goodwin will take the helm of the 17-school district in July after serving as an assistant superintendent at Spartanburg County District One for more than seven years. He will be taking the place of 40-year district veteran John Williams who will retire this summer after holding its top job since 2004.
At the Wednesday afternoon announcement, Goodwin was met by about 50 district teachers and administrators, who during a stream of congratulations, seemed to welcome him in as an old friend, already joking with one another.
Goodwin, 46, got both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Clemson University and a doctorate of education from Nova Southeastern University in Florida.
Under his leadership, the Spartanburg district executed a referendum building project that impacted each of the district’s 13 schools, including building two new high schools and doubling the facilities’ square footage of the district. Goodwin also said he’s very proud of the work he did improving academics, athletics and arts while principal of Chapman High School.
Chesterfield board chairman Chad Vick also said that he was very impressed with Goodwin’s work in raising Chapman to the No. 2 ranked school in the state during his tenure as principal.
“His background and achievements in his Spartanburg district are what make us excited about his vision for Chesterfield,” Vick said.
He said it took the board a long time to whittle down the 30 applications they received with the help of the South Carolina School Boards Association.
Goodwin will move to Chesterfield with his wife, Amy Goodwin, who teaches high school English and journalism, and his daughter, who is a rising high school junior. The couple’s son is a sophomore at Furman University. In his address, Goodwin said the family is looking forward to making the Pee Dee home and that they plan to stay in Chesterfield the rest of their careers.
He said he was drawn to apply in Chesterfield because he thought his experience in the northern part of Spartanburg County prepared him for the district.
“Chesterfield County is really similar to my current school district,” Goodwin said. “While the geography is a whole lot larger, the student makeup is very similar, and it’s the same kind of a setting. It’s mainly a rural setting and that’s what I’m used to working in and have worked in those settings now for almost 20 years.”
Goodwin said his first year will be spent “really getting to know the district” and getting an accurate reading of its financial situation and how it relates to personnel. He said by this time next year, he expects to have a “clearly-defined vision” for the schools, adding that strong administrative and board leadership has already laid a good foundation for the district to move forward and excel.
Born and raised in Camden, Goodwin intended to embark on a career in engineering, but turned to education accidentally.
“Once I made the turn, it immediately became a passion. I like school, I like public schools and I believe in the mission of public schools which is not just to educate children, but to prepare them for life in general,” Goodwin said.