Founder and CEO, Contec
Jack McBride thinks big.
Under his vision, Contec, the company he started in 1988 with partner Jim Smith, has grown to be a global leader in manufacturing cleaning products that are critical to the operations of pharmaceutical, biotech, medical device, and other industries.
Today, Contec has 700 employees. They work at two manufacturing facilities in South Carolina, at facilities in China and the United Kingdom, and at sales offices in seven other nations.
A man who sees the big picture can also see a big problem.
“The shortage of teachers in South Carolina is obviously a growing concern,” said McBride. “I’d love to see a greater sense of urgency in education about getting more and better teachers in our classrooms.”
He added, “We’re competing on a global level with countries that use different education models, and some of those might be practical to consider here. It’s my view that education must be designed on an understanding that every student is an individual, and curriculum is not one-size-fits-all.”
McBride served for eight years as a trustee of the Mary Black Foundation, the last year as chairman of its board of directors. The foundation invests in programs, including in the education system, that support the health, wellness, and success of people and communities in Spartanburg County. McBride put much of his energy into one area of special personal interest.
“I’m a big proponent of early childhood education,” he said.
“Approximately 80 percent of brain growth occurs during the first three years of life. We also know that this time is critical for brain development, essentially building the infrastructure of the brain. That development prepares children for other kinds of engagement they will have all their lives, including formal classroom education.”
McBride supports the work of Teach For America South Carolina (TFASC) because he has seen its mission close at hand.
“Our son, John, taught third grade in Walterboro, S.C. on a two-year commitment with TFASC,” said McBride.
“John’s experience opened our eyes to two things about TFASC. First, outstanding leaders are generally accepted into this program, and they bring value to our state, especially during this teacher shortage. Second, even though John chose not to stay in teaching as a career, his experience showed him the value of teachers and how teaching is fundamental to bring our educational performance to the level it needs to be.”
John McBride transitioned from the classroom to work at the Smithsonian Institution, and he plans to study law.
He made a distinct impression on his students.
“John gave them a new role model – a male teacher only about a dozen years older than they were,” said Jack McBride. “Those students now have a different perspective of what and who a teacher can be.”
Based on his son’s positive experience, McBride offers this advice to future TFASC teachers: “Just go into it with an open heart and an open mind.”
“Understand that these kids are our future. Let’s do as much as we can to put them on a level playing field with other kids in different environments with more resources,” he concluded. “You’ll be doing our country and South Carolina an amazing service.”