Principal, Mellichamp Elementary School
Mellichamp Elementary School shows its true colors.
On Fridays, third graders – known as Team Perseverance – wear green T-shirts. Fourth graders – Team Grit – proudly sport blue. Fifth graders – Team Fortitude – fly bright red. School staffers dress in team colors too.
Mellichamp Principal Elrica Glover says the colors help students identify with virtues they can hold onto far beyond their school years.
“Here at Mellichamp, we want to instill teamwork, confidence, and leadership, so our children will achieve whatever they set their minds to,” said Glover. “We may not see the fruits of our labor in elementary school, but we’ll hear about these students throughout their lives. They’ll be productive citizens.”
Glover knows kids. She is raising three of her own, and she has taught and coached for 26 years. Her impressive spectrum of engagement and scholarship ranges from serving as a kindergarten teacher to earning a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education (South Carolina State University), master’s degree in K-12 reading education (Clemson University), Ed.S. in teaching – language and literacy concentration (University of South Carolina), and Ed.D. in K-12 educational leadership (Nova Southeastern University).
“My passion has always been for readers and writers,” said Glover. “That’s been true whether it was kindergarten, classrooms, or district teaching and coaching for school staff members.”
Glover settled into administrative work in 2016 when she joined Principal Hayward Jean, one of South Carolina’s best and brightest rising educators, as assistant principal at Mellichamp. Then, when Jean took a role as the director of student services for the Orangeburg County School District in 2018, Glover became principal at Mellichamp.
“It’s good to have this meaningful role in Orangeburg County,” said Glover. “I grew up here. It’s a special place for me, and I have special hopes for students here.”
She has special help too. At Mellichamp, Glover has welcomed several Teach For America South Carolina (TFASC) teachers. She said that they walk in the classroom with a quality that sets them apart.
“They all come highly motivated. They’re very energetic. They’re self-starters and go-getters,” she said. “Positivity is almost their brand.”
Glover believes those winning spirits fill a critical need in South Carolina today.
“We have a huge teacher shortage,” she said. “We’ve talked about it for years, and now, it’s here and real. TFASC teachers solve a lot of problems. I’d much rather have a teacher who comes here from an alternate educational pathway than no teacher at all.”
Non-traditional thinking, Glover feels, will help South Carolina’s education system in many areas now.
“We need to keep the conversation open about innovation,” she emphasized. “Covid presented a lot of obstacles, but it allowed us to discover innovation and flexibility. To make an impact on this profession, we need innovative options that attract the best and brightest.”
She added, “We also need more competitive practices and higher pay. Teaching is a low-paying job compared to other positions. The number of student teachers recently in the Orangeburg County School District was less than five. People are going to other jobs, and other careers are more attractive. We have to be innovative and collaborative with policymakers and legislators to make this job more attractive.”
Glover knows every shade of what it will take: Perseverance. Grit. Fortitude.