Pictured Senator Billy O’dell, Wayne Fowler and Anderson School District One Board Chairman Fred Alexander.
By Stan Welch – Teachers, administrators, board members and elected officials gathered Monday in the Palmetto High School Auditorium to see School District One Superintendent Dr. Wayne Fowler honored with South Carolina’s Order of the Silver Crescent.
The honor, which came as a complete surprise to Fowler, is one of the highest civilian awards the state has to offer. It was given to Fowler for more than forty years of service to his community, both as an educator and a citizen.
State Senator Billy O’Dell was on hand to honor Fowler, and filling in for Governor Nikki Haley, who could not be present. “The Governor sends her highest regards for your service to your community, Dr. Fowler. You have exhibited many extraordinary traits in your long career as an educator, including the ability to get people to work together. You have also led School District One to a place of prominence, not just in the state of South Carolina, but in the nation.”
Several members of the District One Board of Trustees also spoke. Nancy Upton said that Dr. Fowler’s leadership style was to set a high standard and not only meet it himself, but inspire others to meet it as well. “He has kept District One out of the red and on top of the game, and we are lucky to have such a leader in our midst.”
Dr. Doug Atkins recalled the early years of a forty five year friendship, when “We still called him Wayne, and he had hair like Elvis and a brain like Einstein. In my opinion he is the best superintendent in not just the state, but the nation. I am proud to call him my friend and to see him receive such a deserved honor.”
David Merritt, school board member, also recognized the length of Fowler’s career, pointing out that Fowler was his eighth grade home room teacher. “He was one of the best teachers I had in my fourteen years in school,” said Merritt, bringing laughter from the assembly.
Fowler has lived his entire life in Anderson County, born on a farm in the White Plains area and working his way through Clemson. He was clearly surprised and somewhat discomfited by the attention.
“This is not what I would want for me, to be singled out. It is a great honor to receive the Order of the Silver Crescent, but there are so many people who have worked with me over the years who deserve this recognition. I was surprised to learn that the board feels this way about me. I’m not always sure,” he said to laughter.
“I will cherish this for the rest of my life, and I thank all who helped make it possible.”