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Legislators to speak at WhatWorksSC award celebration Oct. 24

|Hon. Rita Allison|Representative James Smith|Rita Allison (R-Spartanburg)||James Smith (D-Richland)

South Carolina Representatives Rita Allison (R-Spartanburg) and James Smith (D-Richland) will discuss public education in South Carolina as part of the seventh annual WhatWorksSC™ award luncheon to be held at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center Tuesday, Oct. 24 at 12:30 p.m.

The conversation with the two legislators will be moderated by Linda O’Bryon, president and CEO of South Carolina ETV.  The luncheon, presented by the Riley Institute® at Furman University and South Carolina Future Minds, is a celebration of what works in public education in South Carolina.

Dick Riley, former two-term South Carolina Governor and United States Secretary of Education, will present the WhatWorksSC awards which honor successful education initiatives in South Carolina. The award is named for Riley and his late wife, Ann “Tunky” Riley, a dedicated teacher and passionate advocate for quality public education.

The three award finalists are: Innovate! at A. J. Whittenberg Elementary School (Greenville County); Camp iRock (Pickens County); and Make Summer Count (Greenville County).

Rita Allison (R-Spartanburg)

“It is so important that we continue to celebrate the success of our educators working every day to help our students succeed,” said Secretary Riley.  “Representative Allison and Representative Smith have been steadfast advocates for public education, and I look forward to hearing their ideas for how we move South Carolina’s educational system forward.”

Allison has served in the S.C. House of Representatives from 1992-2002 and 2011–present. She is currently chair of the House Education and Public Works Committee. In 2015, Speaker Jay Lucas appointed her as chair of the House Education Policy Review and Reform Task Force, charged with proposing policy changes in response to the S.C. Supreme Court’s ruling in Abbeville v. South Carolina.

James Smith (D-Richland)

Smith has served in the S.C. House of Representatives for 20 years and is a longtime champion for early childhood education. He partnered with Governor Jim Hodges and others in 1999 to introduce and create South Carolina First Steps to School Readiness, the state’s comprehensive school readiness initiative. After chairing a 2015 review of the initiative as a member of the House Legislative Oversight Committee, Smith served as a primary sponsor of legislation to permanently reauthorize First Steps, which passed the S.C. House in February 2017 by a vote of 101-5.

Both Allison and Smith have been recipients of the Riley Institute’s Wilkins Award for Excellence in Legislative Leadership.

O’Bryon oversees a statewide network of 19 television and radio stations and an education service reaching schools throughout the state. SCETV has studios and production facilities in Columbia and several regions around South Carolina.

The WhatWorksSC celebration is open to the public, and individual registration is $25.  For more information, visit Or contact the Furman News and Media Relations office at 864-294-3107.

Last updated October 5, 2017
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Clinton Colmenares
News & Media Relations Director