SDPC Announces 2 New Leadership Appointments for 2023-24

Shannon Lawton selected as next principal of Pickens Elementary School.

On Wednesday, March 8, 2023, the School District of Pickens County Board of Trustees approved the Superintendent’s recommendation for Mrs. Shannon Lawtson to become the next principal of Pickens Elementary School beginning July 1, 2023. This follows the departure of current principal, Donna Harden, as Harden plans to retire at the end of the 2022-23 school year.

“The positive impact that Donna Harden has had on thousands of students and families in the Pickens community is undeniable, and we’re extremely grateful for all she’s done at Pickens and during her entire career,” said Superintendent Danny Merck. “We are excited that Shannon Lawton will continue to provide excellent leadership for Pickens Elementary. The community can be assured that our students will be in great hands for years to come and Pickens Elementary will continue providing an exemplary education for all students.”

Mrs. Lawton is currently the assistant principal of Ambler Elementary School, where she has served during the 2022-23 school year. Prior to this, Lawton was assistant principal at Pickens Elementary School from 2014-2022. During her time as assistant principal, she participated in the SDPC Leadership Academy. Before becoming an assistant principal, Lawton earned her National Board Teacher certification, teaching at A.J. Whittenberg Elementary in Greenville County where, in 2013, she was selected as 1 of 200 teachers worldwide to participate in the Honeywell Educators at Space Academy program. She also taught at Homeland Park Elementary and McCants Middle, both in Anderson School District Five. Mrs. Lawton also served as the head softball coach at T.L. Hanna High School. She earned a B.S. in Science from Presbyterian College. In 2001, she obtained her Master of Arts in Teaching Elementary from Wingate University, and in 2011 earned a Master of Arts in School Leadership from Furman University.

“I am honored and humbled to have been selected to serve as the Principal of Pickens Elementary School.” said Mrs. Lawton. “Pickens Elementary is a special school that is dear to my heart. I am thankful that I get to work at a school with a strong reputation for academic success and parental support. I look forward to working with our students and families and am committed to continuing the success of Pickens Elementary for years to come.”

Mrs. Lawton and her husband Tim, have two daughters. Ella Grace is a freshman at Southern Wesleyan University where she is a member of their softball team. Ava Belle is a 10th grader at Pickens High School and plays for the softball team there.

Mrs. Lawton begins her new role on July 1, 2023.

James Adams selected as Director of Student Support & Interventions

SDPC is excited to announce that Mr. James Adams has been selected as the Director of Student Support & Interventions. Adams, who has served SDPC in varying capacities, has been the Director of Project GO since 2017. At Project GO, Adams developed a program to support students with behavioral needs that negatively impact academic performance for students in grades 6-12.

“One of the results of the COVID-19 pandemic was a loss in socialization skills with students,” said Superintendent Dr. Danny Merck, “The disruptions in routines and social isolation for children during the pandemic led to a marked increase in mental health issues in students and has led to an increase in behavioral issues in our classrooms at all levels. The skillset Mr. Adams has developed as the Director of our Alternative Program will provide behavioral and mental health support and connectivity to make sure student needs are being met.”

In the position of Director of Student Support & Interventions, Mr. Adams will be expanding on the role served by Mr. Clif Alexander, retired SDPC district administrator, for the past 2 years. Responsibilities of this position include:

  • Supporting student transition from SDPC high schools and potential opportunities for success at Pickens County Adult Education, Project Go, PCVA, ESL Classes, and Parenting.
  • Community and parent engagement/outreach
  • Behavioral and Mental Health support – research, and modifications aligned with SDPC’s MTSS plan and connectivity to make sure student needs are being met
  • Staff well-being connectivity to supports and opportunities for staff.
  • Providing leadership for Attendance Interventionists, Mental Health Counselors, Social Workers, and School Counselors to provide support for students/staff in SDPC

In this new role, Mr. Adams will also serve as a member of the Superintendent’s Senior Leadership Team (SLT).

“I am thankful for the opportunity to serve the students and families of Pickens County in this role, and I’m also excited to be a part of the district Senior Leadership Team,” said Adams. “I look forward to supporting the academic, behavioral, and social competencies of all students and helping develop comprehensive and integrated support systems district-wide.”