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Zucker Family Champions for Education Awards

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October 31, 2013

Charleston, SC –The Zucker Family Champions for Education Awards were presented at the 18th Annual Business Education Summit on October 29, 2013. Jonathan Zucker presented the awards which are given annually in recognition of individuals and groups making extraordinary contributions to advance the mission and vision of The Education Foundation. This year two awards were presented; one recognizing a business leader and the other recognizing a leader in education.

2013 Award Winners:
Business Honoree: Dr. Jim Brickell, Associate Vice President, AECOM
Education Honoree: Dr. Rodney Thompson, Superintendent, Berkeley County School District

Dr. Jim Brickell
According to Zucker, Jim Brickell is a true champion for education. He is a successful business leader and an engaged volunteer who, despite a very busy schedule of business responsibilities and travel, makes a commitment to volunteer on behalf of Education Foundation programs and initiatives giving his full energy and attention.

Examples of his work with The Education Foundation include:

  • collaboration with STEM instructors on projects and presentations, making thoughtful contributions that help advance their work
  • participation in Saturday events where educators demonstrate and evaluate innovative teaching strategies, making meaningful suggestions and asking insightful questions
  • participation in STEM Education Partnerships training as a mentor for teachers
  • setting an example for business-education connections by encouraging his employees to be involved in partnerships with schools
  • being the first to confirm his business – AECOM – as an EDGE Academy Partner with the Goose Creek High School STEM Academy.

Beyond his specific commitments to The Education Foundation, Jim has exhibited leadership by promoting women and minorities and has put his words into action by engaging a diverse group of his staff to work with Goose Creek High School.

Jim is also an active participant in the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce and is a proud graduate of the Chamber’s Leadership Charleston, Class of 1998

Through his leadership, integrity and active participation in our business and education communities, Brickell is a valued asset to AECOM, The Education Foundation, the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce and to the community at large. Wherever he goes he keeps his eye on the big picture and helps those with whom he works to connect the parts with the whole for the betterment of this region.

Dr. Rodney Thompson
Said Zucker about Thompson: “The words “leader” and “visionary” aptly describe him – he is quietly transforming the Berkeley County School District at all levels, from teaching and learning, to infrastructure to relationships with the business community. And he is doing so with his own unique style.

Dr. Rodney Thompson is keenly observant of every conversation, every interaction while he is simultaneously absorbing mountains of information. He internalizes that information and subsequently produces a strategic plan, a visionary decision, or a new path to bring students greater opportunities for success.

His leadership of EDGE Academies in our region has been forged not because he talks about the concept, but because he values relationships, rigorous academics, and relevant learning for students. Dr. Thompson believes that it is not the job of a high school or district to graduate students for the sheer sake of getting them to a stage in June – it is our job to prepare them to enter careers or college, ready to be successful.

Dr. Thompson has become infamous in the district for being camera shy – his favorite comment when asked why he looks so unhappy, is that he’s not…..he’s very happy on the inside, his face just doesn’t know it. His staff teases him mercilessly about being the only public figure that has the least desire to be in the public. However, this is a true testament to Dr. Thompson’s character – he does not seek the limelight, he does not exploit his position for popular or personal gain, and he never seeks personal accolades or attention for the wonderful accomplishments of the district. He does seek to make sure teachers, students and staff are recognized for their work and accomplishments, and he takes great pride in the accomplishments of others.

Those who know Rodney best describe him as one of the kindest people they have ever had the pleasure with which to work. He values every opinion, he strives for personal and professional excellence, and he is by far one of the most caring stewards of public education in the region and state.”

About The Zucker Family Champions for Education Awards: The Zucker family, strong supporters of education in the community for years, was the first recipient of the Champions for Education Award presented by The Education Foundation in 2008. Since then they have been instrumental in the development of this and other education partnerships and work tirelessly to elevate the significance of community support in public education.

About The Education Foundation: The Education Foundation, an initiative of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, was founded in 1995 to build partnerships between the business communityand schools, advocate the changes necessary to prepare all students for future careers and to ensure world-class schools in our thriving community.

About the Chamber: With more than 1,700 member organizations representing 100,000 professionals, the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce serves as the collective voice of the business community and a catalyst for advancing the region’s economy and enhancing members’ success through Advocacy, Innovation, Talent and Business Advancement.

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