Current Conway High Assistant Principal Tanika McKissick will begin her duties as the new principal of the school beginning July 1.
“It’s a great feeling to serve a community that raised you,” McKissick said.
McKissick has served as an assistant principal at the school since 2012.
A product of Horry County Schools, she attended Homewood Elementary and Whittemore Park Middle (then West Conway Middle), and graduated from Conway High in 1994.
She received her bachelor’s degree from Coastal Carolina University in 1998, and her master’s degree in educational technology from Lesley University in 2002. She earned a post-master’s certificate in educational leadership from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2008 and is working now to obtain a doctorate in organizational leadership from Grand Canyon University.
“I had my start here. Horry County Schools is near and dear to my heart. I always stayed in contact with my colleagues…It’s a premier county, always doing innovative things,” McKissick said.
She saw the opening at CHS for an assistant principal and decided to give it a try.
“I’m committed to my students regardless of where I am, but it’s a different feeling to go back and serve the community that raised you,” she said, and her husband told her to go for it.
“I believe all of those experiences contributed to me being an educator, in a positive way,” McKissick said. “I was glad to get back home.”
She said she loves that CHS is home, and that it is a school that continues traditions.
“Times have changed though, and there are different challenges, but CHS is still one of those schools that is all about family, community, and is a pillar in the community,” she said. “I think I really appreciate that though times have changed, CHS is still a school that holds on to those traditions.”
Her daughter Amarea is a junior at CHS, and her son Reggie graduated from CHS in 2015. She and her husband also have another son Marcus, who is in New York. Her husband currently works for Dominion Energy.
Lee James, the school’s former principal, is headed to the district office to be a principal specialist beginning in July, but McKissick said it was great working with James for the past four years.
“He has done a great job progressing CHS academically and doing things to make a positive climate there. I’d like to build on that,” she said.
She is excited about the fact that the school plans to expand its STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs. The school currently has ten pathways, she said, and they are adding to the health science pathway with an EKG (electrocardiogram) program.
“I’m also looking to bring back more student incentives and staff incentives,” McKissick said.
For academics and attendance, she is looking to increase the graduation rate, as well as the number of students who are able to graduate college and career-ready.
McKissick also said she wants to focus on parent involvement, and is looking at ways to get parents more engaged. She hopes to start that by working to make more things beneficial to parent schedules.
“Looking at our events, we’re looking at how we can make things more convenient for parents,” she said.
To do this, she hopes to have all stakeholders involved, she said, from students to parents, teachers and community members.
“I believe everyone has something to bring to the table,” McKissick said. “I believe in being open-minded and listening to the suggestions of others. When people are allowed to give their input, it is beneficial for everyone. That’s something I really want to make sure I’m doing – giving everyone an opportunity to give their input.”
McKissick began her teaching career in Horry County at Whittemore Park Middle School in 1999 and taught there for two years before moving to Columbia.
She and her family spent only one year there before her husband Craig was hired by the New York Police Department, so she spent a few years teaching there. After New York, they came home, where she taught briefly at Forestbrook Middle.
Following another transfer for her husband’s job, she spent seven years teaching math in Henrico County Schools in Virginia.
Just before they decided to move back home to Conway, she was promoted to assistant principal there, but still felt the pull to come back to her roots.