North Myrtle Beach High School Principal Trevor Strawderman is leaving for Charleston after 23 years with Horry County Schools.
He's spent the last 10 years as principal at North Myrtle Beach.
“I’m heartbroken that he’s leaving, but I understand,” said District 1 school board member Holly Heniford, who represents North Myrtle Beach. “Opportunities come into our lives that we can’t turn down, and the timing was perfect for him.”
Former Socastee High School basketball coach Dan D’Antoni brought Strawderman to Horry County Schools 23 years ago to help with the team and teach. He was hired under former superintendent Gerrita Postlewait, who is now the superintendent in Charleston County Schools, where Strawderman will take a job in the district office.
From Socastee, Strawderman worked his way up through Horry County Schools, performing several administrative and principal roles across the district until landing a job as the principal at North Myrtle Beach High School during the 2009-2010 school year.
“I’ve lived here for 23 years, and I’ve lived in this community,” Strawderman said. “There’s something you can’t put your finger on in this community, but it’s just special. I’ve meant that from day one. The potential is unlimited here because you have people in the community that care.
“It’s bittersweet to say goodbye to the people in this community and my faculty and staff,” he added. “That’s the tough part.”
There’s no question that Stawderman is well-liked in the North Strand. He’s often seen at the sidelines during sporting events, and helped make sure things ran smoothly when his school turned into a shelter as Hurricane Florence was approaching.
“He is and was an awesome principal,” Heniford said. “He created a level of discipline in the schools that I feel strongly contributes to the satisfaction of the teachers. He is as highly respected in the community as well as anyone in the school system.”
Strawderman said he was planning on working several more years before retiring, and hadn’t considered leaving until the new opportunity in Charleston County School District's office became available. He said the district is still developing the job title and responsibilities.
“For me, it’s an exciting opportunity,” said Strawderman, who’s been a principal in Horry County Schools for 14 years. “I’m kind of a dinosaur in this business. It’s a grind, and the stress, it’s more of a young man or woman’s game. I’m at the point where new challenges, new opportunities are exciting. My youngest daughter graduates this year and goes to the University of South Carolina, so the timing is right.”
Among Strawderman’s accomplishments: increasing academic performance and the graduation rate, working with Renee Hembree on her Teen Angels program for poor and homeless high school students, naming the football stadium after longtime booster club president Hank Hester and supporting the fine arts department.
The school has also been a frequent finalist for US News and World Report’s annual list of best high schools in South Carolina. In 2015, its students had the highest mean SAT score in the state among conventional public high schools.
This year, Strawderman was named 4A Principal of the Year by the South Carolina Athletic Administrators Association.
“I’ve tried to treat people fair,” Strawderman said. “I’ve kind of had a reputation for being tough at times on discipline. But what I’ve come to find out is people accept tough if they think it was fair. I really hope I’ll be remembered as someone who was fair and did the right thing for kids.”
Stawderman said he loves Horry County Schools, but the opportunity was too good to pass up.
“[Being in] Charleston and having the chance to work under Dr. Postlewait was a combination of things I couldn’t overlook at this point in my life,” he said.
The district is now in the process of interviewing candidates to replace him, and both he and Heniford want someone invested in the community to take the reins.
“I want to see somebody that cares about North Myrtle Beach, not just cares about being a principal, but cares about this community,” Strawderman said. “If you really aren’t invested in the community, it’s tough. There are so many day-to-day battles and grinds. Being invested in the community goes a long way during the tough times, and I believe for a person to be not just successful but to be happy, they’ve got to love the kids, they’ve got to love leadership but they also have to love the community. This community especially, we’ve gotten to the point where they expect to see you at games, at concerts, at shows, and they expect to see you in the community.”
Heniford said she hopes the next principal will carry on Strawderman’s legacy of discipline and academic success.
“Hopefully I’ve been... an advocate and a voice for this community and this school and started something here that just grows,” Strawderman said.