Odyssey Online Learning

Meet Our Board

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    Mike Guarino

    Board Chair

    Michael is a 19-year veteran of Verizon Wireless and has held various management positions within the organization during his tenure with the company. Mike holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management with a minor in HR Management from Strayer University, and is currently pursuing his MBA. Mike is actively involved with the community, serving on the City of Mauldin Tree commission. He is also currently serving as President of the SC State School Improvement Council - Columbia, SC; President of the School Board of Odyssey Online Learning located in Columbia; Board of Directors of the James Monroe Mission House located in Fountain Inn, SC and is the Outreach Director of Holy Cross Episcopal Church located in Simpsonville, SC. Mike is a past member of the board of directors of the Public Charter School Alliance of South Carolina. In his limited spare time when he’s not advocating for excellence in education, Mike enjoys traveling and spending time with his family and granddaughter, Victoria.

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    Kent Beasley

    Board Treasurer

    Kent has been in the insurance industry for 26 years as an adjuster, supervisor, and most recently as an auditor. He has worked in multiple states with a myriad of people and organizations, including policyholders, employees, general contractors, consultants, attorneys, accountants, etc. He has developed interpersonal skills by dealing with individuals and groups from both cooperative and adversarial perspectives. Kent is a parent of an Odyssey Online Learning student and is very familiar with the needs of families that may seek an alternative to “traditional” school. He feels like a virtual environment has worked for his family and he would like to help others find similar success at Odyssey Online Learning.

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    Cynthia Stroud

    Board Member

    Cynthia is a veteran teacher as well as a teacher trainer/evaluator. She has thirty years of classroom experience: she has spent an additional ten years working with teachers as a district teacher evaluator and independent consultant for professional development on instructional practices. She has worked in districts all over South Carolina as well as served as an adjunct at the University of South Carolina and Furman University. She has a BS in Elementary Education and Sociology as well as M.Ed. from Clemson University.

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    James Bryan

    Board Member

    James is a retired educator with over 28 years of experience in public education and 10 years in business. Originally from Greenville, he is a graduate of the Greenville school system, and he taught in the school system for over 21 years. Now living in Forest Acres, where he moved to serve as the state social studies coordinator at the SC Department of Education until his retirement. Since retirement, James continued to work, serving as a sales representative for a major publisher. In addition, he continued to provide professional development for the educators of our state. He has served as a teacher consultant for the SC Geographic Alliance, president of the SC Council for the Social Studies, coordinator of the SC Geographic Bee, coordinator of the Gilder Lehrman SC Teacher of the Year, board member for the SC Council on the Holocaust, board member for the SC Humanities Council. . .currently serves on the board for the SC Reading Association and as a review for the SC Book Award. He continues to be active in numerous organizations and is an enthusiastic supporter of the charter school movement. James received his BA and MA from Furman University; plus, he has a Master's plus 30 with work at USC Columbia, USC Upstate, Portland State, and others. 



MEET OUR BOARD CANDIDATES

August 24 -27th, 2017:  Election.  Voting opens with e-ballot links emailed to each parent/guardian and employee of school.  Voting will open at 8 AM on August 24, 2017 and close at 5 PM on August 27, 2017.  There is one vote per child enrolled in the school and one vote per employee.  Voting will be available via e-ballot allowing parents and employees to vote via the internet.   Each ballot will have a unique pin number to ensure confidentiality and integrity of the process.  Computers and paper ballots will be available at the school during normal school hours for families with no internet access or with limited computer knowledge.


James Bryan

 

Email:  palmettoguardSC@gmail.com

Resident: Columbia, South Carolina

Occupation:                                                                                                                                                         

Experience in business, Experience in K-12 Education, Resident of SC

College and Training:

Bachelors - Furman University B.A.

Masters: Portland State University, USC, USC-Upstate M.A.

Other Training: SCPCSD

Other: SC Council on the Holocaust, Representative of the SCDE, SC Council for the Social Studies, President Elect, Conference Chair, President, Past President SC Humanities Council, Board Member SC International Reading Association, Parlimentarian

1. Why do you want to serve on the Odyssey Online Learning Board of Directors and how will you help advance the mission of the school?

I believe that the students of South Carolina deserve the best opportunities in education, and charter schools provide an essential piece of this educational puzzle. Online charter schools, such as Odyssey Online Learning, provide students in low performing traditional schools the opportunity to succeed and excel. Of vital importance is to continue to offer this opportunity to our students. I feel that I can help Odyssey Online Learning grow and continue to meet the needs of the students of our state. With my background in education at the SC Department of Education, I know the importance of opportunities for all students in our state. OOL provides an essential piece of the much-needed revision of education in South Carolina.

2. Describe your work and volunteer background and how it prepares you to be a member of the school board.

My entire career is in education beginning with teaching for 22 years in the Greenville school system. During this time, I volunteered a year working the SC Geographical Alliance (SCGA) to ensure that our students have a sound knowledge of geography, helping the SCGA to become a leading provider of professional development. In addition, I served for 13 years as the SC Geographic Bee Coordinator, helping elementary students engage in learning geography; served 5 years on the SC Council for the Holocaust, providing education in genocide for our teacher; served 7 years on the SC Council for the Social Studies, helping teachers as an advocate for teachers and students of South Carolina; and served 6 years on the SC Humanities Council to provide all of our citizens opportunities to learn the history and culture of our state. My work experience provides me an understanding of education and the business world. As indicated, I taught for 22 years, and I served at the SC Department of Education (SCDE) as the K-12 Social Studies Coordinator and the Coordinator of the Education Improvement Acts Teacher Grant program. After leaving the SCDE, I worked for a Pearson as a sales representative and professional development trainer in South Carolina and North Carolina. I continue to provide in-service training for teachers throughout our state, serve on committee (SC Council on the Holocaust Teacher Advisor Committee, SC International Reading Association, and the current board for the Odyssey Online

Learning.), and serve with any group that fee my history brings aid to their group. Throughout the years, I’ve conducted over 400 workshops/presentations, meeting the teachers of our state and seeing their needs. 

3. Define the difference between your responsibilities as a board member and the responsibilities of the school administration.

The duty of the principal/director is to oversee the daily administration of the school, serving as the primary supervisory role. He/she reports to the school’s board the, of which I would be one member. My function would be to support the principal/director in his/her job and to ensure the stability and growth of the school. The board would oversee the budget, making sure that all funds are spent in accordance with federal, state, and local regulations and goals. In addition, the board would appoint a committee to evaluate the principal/director and insure that adherence to the charter of the school and to the federal and state regulations and guidelines. 

4. What do you consider to be the most important issue for the school and school board to focus on in the upcoming years?

Of vital importance to the school is growth in numbers, but of equal importance is the improvement in test scores for the school. For Odyssey Online Learning, we must place equal emphasis on each of these two, BOTH are equal on the scale of importance. 

A school survives if both areas continue to grow. The board in the coming years must provide help and guidance for the administration as they seek to grow Odyssey Online Learning and provide the best opportunities for the students of the school.

For student achievement, we must provide continuing professional development opportunities for our administration, faculty, and staff to improve their guidance of the Odyssey Online Learning (OOL) students. Making sure that OOL students receive the best in curriculum, the best in teachers, and the best of support is essential for our students’ growth and improvement on the state EOCEP program. 

HOWEVER, we must remember that tests are not the end result of education - the end result is to graduate functioning citizens who participate in and contribute to our republic. Graduation from a school such as OOL with a defined, engaging curriculum will meet the needs of our state and country. 

The role of the school board member is to ensure that the schools has the best curriculum that meets the needs of all of students. This is done by hiring the best administrators, faculty, and staff, and then supporting them in their endeavors to reach every student.


 

Michael Guarino

 

Email:  guarimic@gmail.com

Resident: Mauldin, South Carolina

Occupation:  Manager, Verizon                                                                                                                    

Experience in Business, Experience in K-12 Education, Resident of SC

College and Training:

Bachelors:  Strayer University, Business Administration/Minor Human Resources

Other Training: Governance, Advocacy, Budgeting, Diversity, Public Relations Odyssey Online Learning

Other: Board Chair Provost Academy; Budget/Vice Chair/Board Chair SC State School Improvement Council; Budget/ Nominating/Advocacy/Vice Chair/Board Chair/Past Chair Little Steps Finance,

Golf-Secretary, Board Chair

1. Why do you want to serve on the Odyssey Online Learning Board of Directors and how will you help advance the mission of the school?

Streamline processes and improvements in order to work towards raising the bar for high performing student achievement. Ensure accountability, transparency and consistency for staff, students and parents across the board.

2. Describe your work and volunteer background and how it prepares you to be a member of the school board.

I am interested in serving on the board due to my experience on various levels of business and education looking to streamline processes along with working on budgetary needs. It is important to ensure continued academic success along with a standard of excellence in quality education for our leaders of the future. 

As we continue to move through tough economic times with pupil funding the time is now to educate those that don’t realize that tax dollars do not follow the child to their learning environment but stay within the local district that they reside in. If this funding did follow the child then there would be equitable distribution to provide the same if not a better level of learning that is present in the public school system.

3. Define the difference between your responsibilities as a board member and the responsibilities of the school administration.

As a board member we are responsible for the hiring of a highly effective leader to run the day-to-day operations of the school to ensure highly achievable results and to be held accountable to those standards. In addition we are responsible for the fiduciary and legal responsibilities of the school along with being held accountable to our authorizer.

The Executive Director (Principal) has the responsibility to run the day-to-day operations of the organization and to ensure high performing results for the school along with increasing enrollment to ensure the school remains viable. She/he reports directly back to the board.

4. What do you consider to be the most important issue for the school and school board to focus on in the upcoming years?

Currently the most important challenge facing Odyssey Online is being able to achieve the removal of the Breach status that the school has currently been placed under by our authorizer. We need to ensure we are working closely with our authorizer and placing the necessary tools and resources in place that will assist our highly certified teaching staff with raising the bar for students and their test results. This needs and will be achieved by collaboration with not only the executive staff but the entire school staff as a whole. 

In addition we need to address the declining enrollment we have seen over the past few years by increasing test scores and enhancing the yearly graduation rate. Positive results in these two areas will assist in promoting the school as a flexible learning source versus the traditional brick and mortar schools.

In my opinion some factors that can / could affect student achievement are based around the student, curriculum and parent involvement. To be able to work in a virtual environment can be a challenge for those that have difficulty with self-discipline. To be successful in the virtual environment you need to be able to set guidelines to follow in order to get the most out of your classes. At Odyssey we are fortunate to have the caliber of teachers who are very focused on the successful achievements of their students using the some of the most advanced technology in the industry. In addition by keeping the parents informed will assist in the student staying on the necessary course track.

Curriculum is the building block to which success becomes a reality. In order to ensure your curriculum meets the needs of the students you have to have collaboration from all to ensure it is providing the necessary goals and achievements you are looking for. 

As a member of the board it is our responsibility to review and look at the data to ensure we are providing the needed curriculum and resources for the school to perform at a high level of success. This information comes from the staff through the Executive Director.


 

Tina Pope

 

Email:  tinagirl801@gmail.com

Resident: Hemingway, South Carolina

Occupation:  Parent                                                                                                                                          

Parent/Guardian of an Odyssey Student, Resident of SC

College and Training:

Bachelors: Williamsburg Technical College

1. Why do you want to serve on the Odyssey Online Learning Board of Directors and how will you help advance the mission of the school?

I want to support my child's school in any way that I can be of help.  I am a strong supporter of online education and school choice for students in South Carolina.  This opportunity will give me a chance to learn more about leadership and support for Odyssey Online Learning.

2. Describe your work and volunteer background and how it prepares you to be a member of the school board.

I have worked in a variety of clerical positions that have prepared me for helping the Odyssey Online board make effective decisions and solve problems.

3. Define the difference between your responsibilities as a board member and the responsibilities of the school administration.

As a board member, I will work with other board members to make decisions that are in the best interest of all the students at Odyssey Online Learning.  The principal is the person responsible for the day-to-day operations of the school, as well as informing the board of needs and wants relative to the school operation and student achievement.

4. What do you consider to be the most important issue for the school and school board to focus on in the upcoming years?

The most important issue for Odyssey Online Learning in the upcoming year is facilitating more individual teacher to parent/student meetings that support the immediate needs of the students.  Many parents are frustrated by the "cookie cutter, everybody is the same" mentality of our public schools.  Odyssey has the ability to be more individualized with families and their students.  I would want this to be an important focus for us.

I believe the attitudes of students determine whether they are successful or unsuccessful in school and life.  I believe they need the guidance of their teachers (sometimes in a one-on-one unscheduled appointment) and their parents to feel like they can accomplish even the hardest things.


 

Trent Salvaggio

 

Email:  tsalvaggio@sc.rr.com

Resident: Summerville, South Carolina

Occupation:  Executive Director Internet of Things Talent Consortium                                        

Experience in business, Experience in K-12 Education, Resident of SC

College and Training:

Bachelors: Charleston Southern University, B.A. Management

Masters: Charleston Southern University, Trident University International MBA, Ph.D.

Other: CSU MBA Alumni Association

1. Why do you want to serve on the Odyssey Online Learning Board of Directors and how will you help advance the mission of the school?

As a life-long learner I understand and appreciate the importance of education and its ability to shape the future of communities.  My interest in serving on the Board of Directors for Odyssey Online Learning arises from my deep held desire to provide accessible quality education to anyone who wishes to acquire such knowledge. I believe in the ability of on-line education to reach and effectively transform a population of learners who otherwise would remain under served and thus, without the tools to become a value adding member of society. Serving as a member of the Board of Directors will allow me to demonstrate the effectiveness of online education and to shape policy aimed at providing the best educational experience for our South Carolina students.

2. Describe your work and volunteer background and how it prepares you to be a member of the school board.

The path traveled to arrive where I am today is a winding one... I entered college immediately following high school and worked full-time during my studies. After 2 years, I received a promotion opportunity with my employer, which would require me to drop out of college. I was fast-tracked through a series of management positions until I reached a level where a college degree was required.  It was at this point that I truly realized the importance of education. 

I returned to college taking night courses to complete my degree while continuing to work full-time during the day. Upon completion of my undergraduate degree, still thirsty for knowledge, I immediately pursued an MBA and eventually a Ph.D.

In my professional career as a business executive I have developed the skills necessary to analyze complex situations, devise creative solutions, and provide opportunities for implementation of those solutions; all while dealing with a diverse set of personalities, priorities and agendas of the other executives involved. I understand how to balance limited resources, to negotiate for required resources, and how to devise an effective strategy allowing an organization to reach its goals.

My work as a Professor within the South Carolina higher education system provided a first hand understanding of the struggles that educational institutions can faced with. I've proven my ability to

work with administrators, governing bodies and other stakeholder groups to remove obstacles and deliver outcomes that best serve our student populations. In my current role as the Executive Director of a multi-national non-profit organization I routinely work to overcome obstacles to success while balancing the needs and desires of competing parties.

This is all to say that, above all, my work requires me to be an effective leader.  It requires someone who can conceive and construct an inspiring and attainable vision while serving as a resource to those responsible for delivering on such a vision. I believe that these skills would allow me to add significant value to the Board of Directors and the greater Odyssey Online community.       

3. Define the difference between your responsibilities as a board member and the responsibilities of the school administration.

I see a stark and clearly identifiable difference between the responsibilities of a board member and  those of the Principal. At the highest level of analysis, an effective board member provides an explanation to the question of 'what?', while an effective Principal must address the question of 'how?'. 

It practice, this is akin to the board member first working with the appropriate stakeholders to define standards / required outcomes. It is then the responsibility of the board member to work with the Principal to set the appropriate direction towards achieving those outcomes. It is the duty of the Principal, in consultation with his/her team, to then operationalize the strategy and vision and execute on it through the defining of appropriate procedure and effective management of organizational resources.

4. What do you consider to be the most important issue for the school and school board to focus on in the upcoming years?

While there are many issues of critical importance, I believe that the most pressing is in understanding the changing needs of the student population and how to best serve our diverse population of learners.  

In our dynamic environment, punctuated by tremendous large-scale change, an effective educational system is one that is also adaptive to change.  We know that no two students are the same, and no two schools are the same. It is to this end that the delivery of an optimal educational experience must be created based upon the individual school, and the individual learner. The failure of such an endeavor results in an outdated, inefficient, static set of policies, which only hamper the ability of educators to deliver on their promise to prepare their students to become valuable members of their communities.

I believe that the answer to this question is multi-dimensional in so much that student achievement is a function of access to necessary resources combined with the informed and caring guidance of an effectively trained educator. The lack of either of these inputs severely limits the level of achievement obtainable by even the brightest individual. It is to this end that the role of a board member to ensure the student population receives adequate amounts of each through effective external representation and internal governance.

As a board member I will clearly articulate the value that Odyssey provides to the State of South Carolina, serve as a steward to its stakeholders, position the organization to deliver on its mission, and ensure alignment between the school and the State.      

 

Thomas Scott

 

Email:  tom.scott.sc@gmail.com

Resident: Columbia, South Carolina

Occupation:  Executive Director at SC Cyber                                                                                           

Experience in business, Experience in K-12 Education, Parent/Guardian of an Odyssey student, Resident of SC

College and Training:

Bachelors: University of Georgia

Masters: MA Florida State University

Other: ISACA GRC Director, MSISAC Executive Committee Member, Infragard President/Past President

1. Why do you want to serve on the Odyssey Online Learning Board of Directors and how will you help advance the mission of the school?

I believe that being involved in the education field and also have a student enrolled at Odyssey gives me a unique perspective that I can bring to the board.

2. Describe your work and volunteer background and how it prepares you to be a member of the school board.

I have an extensive volunteer background in education, social services, and youth recreation.  Each has provided me with differing roles and responsibilities whose experience I can bring to this board.

3. Define the difference between your responsibilities as a board member and the responsibilities of the school administration.

I think the primary difference is that a board member should help set direction that the Principal enacts and enables.

4. What do you consider to be the most important issue for the school and school board to focus on in the upcoming years?

I believe the most important issue to focus on for the upcoming year is ensuring a flexible and adaptable program continues to be available to SC students.

I believe the most important factors affecting student achievement is the failure to teach skills necessary for today's workforce. I believe my biggest role would be to continue to advocate for online learning and its importance in teaching the skills necessary for today's workforce.


 

Cynthia Stroud

 

Email:  Cynthia.stroud@odysseyonline.com

Resident: Greenville, South Carolina

Occupation:  Retired Educator

                                                                                                                                                                                  

Experience in K-12 Education, Resident of SC

College and Training:

Bachelors: Francis Marion University, B.S. with majors in education and sociology

Masters: Clemson University, M.Ed and Masters Plus 30

Other Training: Certified as an administrator, worked as an evaluator and consultant in numerous school across the state.

Other: Provost Academy Bylaws Committee, Odyssey Online Evaluation Committee, Christopher Ridge HOA Newsletter, Architectural Review, Simpsonville Methodist Preschool Evaluation of administrative staff

1. Why do you want to serve on the Odyssey Online Learning Board of Directors and how will you help advance the mission of the school?

I have served a previous term and feel comfortable with the school operations and the school environment.  I was a part of the change from the education management company to the self-sufficient school.  I believe that the problems that the school faces will be more easily solved if previous members can continue in their effort to make the improvements that are needed.  Current board members won't have to spend time acquainting themselves with the issues that need to be corrected. If new perspectives are added to those already familiar with the school and its issues, there should be opportunities to move forward in the most productive manner.

2. Describe your work and volunteer background and how it prepares you to be a member of the school board.

I have worked as an educator in the classroom, at the district level, as a consultant, and as a federal project director.  I also have worked as an adjunct at Furman, with undergraduate teachers, and the University of South Carolina where I taught graduate classes for teachers.  I am well acquainted with the educational environment: education has been my life's work.

3. Define the difference between your responsibilities as a board member and the responsibilities of the school administration.

It is a principal's task to run a school, to supervise faculty and staff, to be the instructional leader, and to conceptualize the school's goals and plan accordingly.  The principal should interpret the school program for the community as well as provide opportunities for a strong school and community relationship.  The school board, as a unit, should be accessible to the public and accountable for the performance of the school. Members must collectively ensure that students get the best possible education for the tax dollars spent. A school board must also advocate the community vision, facilitate instructional improvements, and practice responsible fiscal policies. 

4. What do you consider to be the most important issue for the school and school board to focus on in the upcoming years?

Achievement is the most important current issue in education. Student populations are diverse and the needs of students vary greatly from person to person.  Delivery of instruction in the most advantageous way for individual students continues to be a huge challenge.  Technology has given us avenues toward more adequately making those provisions, but we must continue to strive to educate all students with the attitude that all students can learn.

As a board member, I have been consistent in my attendance and in my participation in any program or activity that might enhance my knowledge and experience. It is necessary to do what we must to provide teachers with the skills and resources to teach in this challenging day and age.  Students and parents must have the support that they need.  All stakeholders must be united and dedicated to the premise that each student's quality education is the single most important goal for all families and their students.


 

Tracey Stuckey

 

Email:  missnbct@gmail.com

Resident: Hemingway, South Carolina

Occupation:  Direstor/Owner/Teacher Hemingway Day School                                                      

Experience in business, Experience in K-12 Education, Resident of SC

College and Training:

Bachelors: College of Charleston, B.S. Early Childhood and Elementary Education

Other: National Board Certified Teacher, Rural Area Leadership Institute graduate at Francis Marion University, Williamsburg Rural Area Leadership Vice President, Williamsburg Co Adult Education Board of Directors Vice President

1. Why do you want to serve on the Odyssey Online Learning Board of Directors and how will you help advance the mission of the school?

As a 25-year veteran educator, mother of an online middle school student, business owner in a depressed area of our state, and cheerleader for school choice, I enthusiastically want the best for all students in our state.  As a member of this board, I will be able to volunteer my time and talents to support the growth of Odyssey Online Learning's academic, social, and outreach platforms.

2. Describe your work and volunteer background and how it prepares you to be a member of the school board.

My work as an elementary educator has prepared me to be a visionary eye for this board's academic decisions, as well as a positive voice for the needs of the students served by Odyssey Online Learning.  

My work as a board member for the adult education program in Williamsburg County offered me the knowledge of the adult education (GED) student population, and the tools needed to teach learners on this alternative path.  I was able to see first-hand how the traditional brick and mortar education fell short of meeting their individual needs. 

Finally, my work with Fred Sheheen on the Williamsburg County Rural Area Leadership Project, opened my eyes to the needs of the citizens of rural counties in South Carolina.  Specifically, an increase in the ability to have high quality schools (with certified teachers), career readiness skills, soft skills for the workplace, and rigor within the classroom to support the students' future attendance at four year colleges.

3. Define the difference between your responsibilities as a board member and the responsibilities of the school administration..

The principal is the primary enforcer of the daily protocol established by the board. My work as a board member is to be a team player with the other board members to support the principal's ability to run the school effectively.  I would support the principal in solving problems and creating programs that work for students while also monitoring the school's progress and needs.

4. What do you consider to be the most important issue for the school and school board to focus on in the upcoming years?

The most important issues for Odyssey Online Learning in the coming years would be defining the school as a leader in school choice through rigorous curriculum, increasing enrollment, lowering attrition rates while inflating graduation rates, and strengthening college and career readiness programs for future success of all graduates.

The most important factors affecting student achievement are the students' fixed mindsets versus what they should have which is a growth mindset.  Many times students and their families see schools like Odyssey Online Learning as a "last resort" for "getting out" of a brick and mortar school that hasn't worked for the child or family.  They bring with them the negative feelings about school and who they are as a learner.  

As a board member, I would encourage the implementation of faculty and family talks around the idea of developing the student growth mindset. The role of the counseling department in supporting the teachers to handle the transition from a negative and defeated outlook to one of positive achievement and involvement within their school family.  

In addition, there is a direct correlation in school achievement when relationships between the teachers, parents and student are positive and ongoing.  As a board member, I would study the current methods used for cultivating these relationships with the focus always being on increased student achievement.


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