AASA Central | Debbie Hamm, Superintendent, Sumter County Schools, Sumter, S.C.
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Debbie Hamm, Superintendent, Sumter County Schools, Sumter, S.C.

South Carolina: Leaders Matter

 Nominated By: Beth Phibbs, Executive Director, South Carolina Association of School Administrators

Debbie Hamm, Superintendent, Sumter County Schools, Sumter, S.C.



When Debbie Hamm (debbie.hamm@sumterschools.net) became interim superintendent of the Sumter County School District in 2017, the district just approved budget cuts of $6.8 million due to overspending in the district of $6.2 million. In just two years, the district has gone from $100,000 in its reserve fund to $8 million. Under her leadership, the district has made significant progress in the areas of finance, instructional programs, long-range planning and facilities. To address the budget deficit and to provide students more educational opportunities, she made a proposal to close several low-enrollment schools.

Prior to her tenure in Sumter County, she served as superintendent of Richland School District Two, the largest school district in the Midlands of South Carolina. While in Richland District Two, she led the district’s charge to institute magnet programs and 1TWO1 computing and spearheaded the opening of the Richland Two Institute of Innovation (R2i2). This one-of-a-kind facility transformed education and the community by providing multigenerational learning, a public library, centrally located district offices and a much-needed conference center.

Hamm is the recipient of multiple awards and recognitions, including the South Carolina Association of School Administrators’ Lifetime Achievement and South Carolina District Level Administrator of the Year awards.

She has had to make very critical and unpopular decisions in order to do what is best for the students of the Sumter County School District. One of these decisions was to close several schools in order to address the budget deficit. The students in those schools were absorbed by larger schools which will provide them with more educational opportunities.

In her district, she emphasizes learning, character, community, and joy to improve student achievement, engagement, and morale. Students and employees are encouraged to acquire new knowledge and skills through strong instructional programs. The district is committed to teaching and encouraging strong character traits so that they become contributing members of a global society. Each school in the district has special programs to best serve the needs of its population so that all students can succeed.

She is held in the highest regard by fellow educators, volunteers and community members because of her quiet strength and humble spirit.

Exemplars of Leadership:

  • Demonstrated fiscal leadership supporting instruction.
  • Innovative leadership in development of innovative facilities designed to provide broad service to the community.
  • Evidence of award-winning accomplishments.
  • Strong leadership designed to support learning in global society.

To learn more about the superintendents profiled in AASA’s Leaders Matter campaign, visit https://aasacentral.org/leadersmatter/. To join the conversation via Twitter, please access #LeadersMatter.


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