Southside Principal named District Principal of the Year
Robert Craig Washington, Principal of Southside Middle School, is the Florence One 2017-18 Principal of the Year. Washington, who has served as principal of the school for the past 11 years, received a surprise visit to the Southside Middle School faculty meeting by Superintendent Randy Bridges, who publicly made the announcement.
Prior to joining Florence One, Washington served as principal of Crosswell Drive Elementary School in Sumter. Previously, he served as an Assistant Principal at Sumter High School from 1998-2001. His teaching career began as a band instructor at Timmonsville High School and Johnson Middle School in Timmonsville. He has also taught band at Lincoln High and McClellanville Middle School in McClellanville (Charleston County). Washington received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music with a Minor in Education from Charleston Southern University, and a Master of Education in Secondary School Administration from the Citadel. He has also received advanced educational leadership training through the University of South Carolina, and he is currently working toward completion of an Educational Specialist degree.
“Mr. Washington is always looking for innovative ways to better serve his students, said Florence One Superintendent Dr. Randy Bridges. “He is an excellent communicator and has the ability to successfully lead by example. He will represent our school district well as our principal of the year.”
In 2012, Washington was named South Carolina Art Education Association’s (SCAEA) Outstanding Principal and in 2015 he was named the South Carolina Music Educators Association’s 2015 Honor Administrator.
“He is a tremendous leader and a staunch supporter of arts education,” said Gloria Turner, nominator of Washington for the art educator award, and fine arts department head at Southside Middle School. Turner said Washington is a firm believer that through the arts, we can develop relationships with our students and help them explore and find their strengths and successes. “On occasion,” remarked Turner, “if you check the band or chorus rooms as Mr. Washington makes his rounds through the school building, you may find him playing the trombone with the band or singing with the chorus.”
Florence One Fine Arts Coordinator Laura Greenway, who nominated Washington for the music educator award, said, “Mr. Washington is dedicated to the arts, particularly music. The Southside Middle School band, choral, and strings program have all grown and flourished under Mr. Washington.
Washington’s leadership.” Greenway also said that the school offers huge community events featuring the students’ musical talents where specific local citizens are encouraged to participate, including Swinging with Seniors (for senior citizens), Annual Veterans Day (veterans), and the Festival of the Arts (entire community).
Under Washington’s leadership, the school has been recognized by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation for its work in transforming its campus into a healthy place for students and staff. Most recently, Southside Middle School is one of two schools in Florence One that has received AdvancED STEM Certification. Southside is among 52 schools in the nation to earn this mark of distinction and excellence that provides the schools' STEM programs a research-based framework and criteria for awareness, continuous improvement, and assessment of the quality, rigor, and substance of their STEM educational programs.
Washington is one of two principals in Florence One who received nominations for the Principal of the Year Award by colleagues in Florence One. He emerged as the Florence One Principal of the Year after an interview session conducted by peers and school administrators. Washington will now represent Florence One in the South Carolina Association of School Administrators’ Principal of the Year Program.