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Dr. O’Malley named SCAAA Superintendent of the Year

Florence 1 Schools Superintendent Dr. Richard O’Malley has been named the South Carolina Athletic Administrators Association Superintendent of the Year. The SCAAA Awards were presented virtually Sunday, March 14.

The award nomination came from Florence 1’s three athletic directors, Cody Slaughter, Greg Johnson and Derrick McQueen.

O’Malley said he greatly appreciates the recognition, specifically because the award recognizes that the changes being made around the district are having a direct, positive impact on students.

“I have worked very hard to provide the leadership to move F1S forward, while providing equity across the district,” O’Malley said. “This includes facilities, equipment, uniforms and athletic opportunities that have not been afforded in the past. I am thrilled that F1S is being recognized across South Carolina and, more importantly, that our student-athletes have the athletic opportunities they deserve.”

Johnson, athletic director for West Florence High School, highlighted numerous achievements in his nomination letter, including the on-site stadiums being built at all three high schools.

“(Dr. O’Malley’s) belief in and perseverance of equity across the district of F1S is so strong that when the referendum was defeated, he sought feedback and then did what he seems to always do -- he got creative…The sight of bulldozers and dirt and pipe might look like a mess to some people, but for those of us “in the know,” the mess looks like beautiful, promising progress. The high school stadium sites look like what thousands of people before him wanted, but weren’t willing or able to fight for and produce.”

McQueen, athletic director for Wilson High School, said in his nomination that O’Malley’s strong vision has brought a restored sense of pride to Florence 1 Schools, for both students and staff. 

“I’m very excited for the future of Florence One School district under the leadership of Dr. Richard O’Malley. He has shown his HUGE vision and expectation for our students, our district and the community. As a manager, he’s truly an inspiration to our staff. His strong leadership skills, along with the support and dedication he shows to our team, has earned much-deserved respect and admiration. Over the past 2 years, he’s restoring the PRIDE for our students, our staff, our district and the community. He has been a voice for students, student-athletes, and our school communities.”

Florence 1 Schools Board Chairman Porter Stewart said that he is happy to see O’Malley’s hard work in the district being recognized.

“I am pleased to learn of the recognition of Dr. O’Malley by the SCAAA,” Stewart said. “It is well deserved. He has worked very hard since his arrival in Florence to improve opportunities for students in both academics and athletics. We have seen significant improvements and renovations in our indoor facilities and the creation of completely new on-campus stadiums at all three of our high schools that serve track and field, soccer and football. Students and our community will be well served by all of these initiatives for many years to come.”

Florence 1 Board Member Barry Townsend said that O’Malley has brought positive change to the district and continues to push for improvement in all areas.

“Dr. Rich O’Malley is the physical embodiment of Florence 1 Schools’ commitment to putting students first in everything we do,” Townsend said. “His unwavering leadership and commitment to improving every aspect of the district has transformed the 2020-21 school year from a year of survival to a year of progress. When our community is finally able to return to a more normal way of life, our students will return to schools that have continued to improve and move steadily forward towards Dr. O’Malley’s goal of Florence 1 being a model school district, not only for South Carolina but for the nation. During my time on the board, there has been no accomplishment I am prouder of than the role I played in helping bring Dr. Rich O'Malley to F1S and I cannot imagine a more deserving individual for this recognition.”

Shawn Armstrong, Strength and Conditioning Coach at South Florence, said that the remodeled weight rooms are a huge asset to Florence 1 student-athletes.

“Dr. O’Malley is a huge supporter of athletics for all of Florence 1. This is my first year here at South Florence and, coming in, I’ve had the opportunity to basically design this weight room from scratch,” Armstrong said. “To know that he was backing us the entire way put our minds at ease because we knew he wanted to get this done and he wanted to have a top-of-the-line facility and that’s definitely what it is. We are so fortunate to have it and so thankful to Dr. O’Malley to allow us to have this nice facility. I talk to Coach Slaughter and Coach Marlowe all the time about changing the culture and the kids are really starting to buy-in. The kids are super excited and we just can’t wait for big things to happen.”

West Florence Varsity Boys Soccer Head Coach Billy Andrews has worked in education for more than four decades and said that the amount of change that has taken place in just a few years has been amazing.

“All of the things that have been created for athletics in this school district over the last three years is something that I have never seen in my 44 years of teaching and coaching in Florence School District 1,” Andrews said. “Thank you, Dr. O'Malley, for leading the way for our student-athletes.”