Retired Dorchester School District 4 superintendent Dr. Morris Ravenell announced he’s running as a write-in candidate for the District 1 seat on the Orangeburg County School District Board of Trustees.

Incumbent Betty Macon Pelzer was the only candidate to file for the District 1 seat before filing closed, and will be the only candidate on the ballot.

The district includes Eutawville, Vance, Holly Hill and part of Santee.

Ravenell is a Eutawville community resident with 30-plus years of education experience.

“My tenure includes working as a classroom teacher in the Berkeley County School District and at the former Roberts High School in Holly Hill,” he said.

“I have served as a principal in the Berkeley County School District, as well as in Dorchester School District 4. I retired as superintendent of Dorchester School District 4 in 2020.”

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Ravenell says his experience will allow him to help the district improve the educational process for students.

“There are several challenges that currently pose major problems to our children receiving a quality education. The biggest problem, as I see it, is recruiting and retaining certified and qualified teachers. There is a national shortage in the number individuals entering into the teaching profession, but we haven’t identified a strategy to rectify that situation,” Ravenell said.

“At one point in my career, I left the teaching profession because of low wages to work in industry. I eventually returned, but there are too many of our teachers who are leaving the profession to pursue other careers and never return. We must do a better job of getting qualified individuals in the profession and retaining them once they begin their careers,” he said.

Although there are challenges in the classroom and community, there are also opportunities to prepare students for their futures, he said.

“Orangeburg County, as well as the entire Lowcountry, have done an exceptional job at bringing industry to the area,” he said. “There is an excellent opportunity to get our students ready to compete for various productive careers that can be had in these industries.

“Students should leave high school ready for college and career. It is the responsibility of the district to offer a rigorous and engaging curriculum that will prepare our students for these challenges. It is the responsibility of the community to support the district and our students in ensuring that our students leave high school with a quality education.”

Orangeburg County School District students “should be able to sit in any college classroom, or apply for any high-paying job with the confidence that they can compete with anyone,” Ravenell said.

He said school safety is another major concern.

“I believe that the district has to work closely with the community and law enforcement to identify potential problems and jointly work at implementing common sense solutions,” he said. “Awareness and having a relationship with students and staff can be a major factor in deterring some of these safety concerns.”

The district must continue to build relationships with South Carolina State University, Claflin University, Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College and industries to expose students to experiences that enrich their education, he said.

“I believe that the highest honor one could achieve is the honor to serve. If we could serve with the intention of enriching the lives of those who we are responsible for, then I believe our mission can be accomplished,” he said.

Ravenell received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Voorhees College. He earned his counseling degree and educational doctorate degree from South Carolina State University.

He serves on the board of trustees at the Cummins Memorial Theological Seminary in Summerville, and is a member of the Voorhees University Berkeley County Alumni Chapter. He is also a member of Unity Missionary Baptist Church in Eutawville.

Ravenell is married to Barbara West Ravenell and they have two sons, Joshua and Brian.

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