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‘Outstanding Contributions in Education’ award for 2019 given to Charter Institute staff member

Charter Institute leaders, from left: CEO Cameron Runyan; Chief of Student Services Celina Patton; Director of School Special Education Laura Merrick; and Director Vamshi Rudrapat

Celina Patton, Chief of Student Services for the Charter Institute at Erskine, was recognized by the South Carolina Association of School Psychologists (SCASP) with their 2019 Outstanding Contributions in Education award.

This award is given annually to professional educators who have made notable contributions to education in South Carolina which, directly or indirectly, improve services to children.

“Winning this award was a total surprise to me,” Patton said, who was surprised during a staff meeting with the announcement. “My number one goal every day is to serve our students and schools. I am blessed to work with such an amazing team that allows our department to shine. I cannot thank the SCASP enough for recognizing the hard work we have put in this year.”

Patton, and the Institute’s Director of School Special Education, Laura Merrick, worked tirelessly during the summer months of 2018 to ensure a successful first year for schools under the Institute’s authorization. Nearly 1,000 special education and 504 student records were successfully transferred to the Institute.

The SCASP is a membership organization that empowers school psychologists to advance the learning and mental health of students in South Carolina.

“When we review applications each year to select a winner, the key piece we focus on is the type of impact the individual makes on the student, and their school,” said Mary Bryant, President-elect of the SCASP. “Mrs. Patton clearly demonstrated that quality and that is why she stood out amongst the many educators in the running.”

Vamshi Rudrapati, Director for the Charter Institute at Erskine, said Patton winning this award was no surprise.

“Mrs. Patton brings a wealth of experience to the Institute and is such a valuable member to our team and what we strive for,” Rudrapati said. “The dedication and passion she possesses for special education is superior. Not only does she make a difference in our schools, but she also empowers her co-workers to be better than they were the day before. We are thrilled to see her be recognized statewide.”

Erskine College, founded in 1839, established the Charter Institute at Erskine in 2017 to improve public education across the state of South Carolina. The Institute currently authorizes 13 charter schools with nearly 10,000 students. Four additional schools are scheduled to open in the fall of 2019.

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