News release: Quality Counts of Spartanburg First Steps wins statewide WhatWorksSC Award


Katie Quine
Marketing and Communications Manager
The Riley Institute at Furman University




The program was recognized by Furman University’s Riley Institute for its work improving student outcomes

GREENVILLE, S.C. — Quality Counts, a Spartanburg First Steps program, received the 2020 Dick and Tunky Riley WhatWorksSC Award during a virtual celebration of South Carolina public education presented by Furman University’s Riley Institute on October 6.

Former U.S. Secretary of Education and two-term S.C. governor Dick Riley announced the winner and presented the award, which is given annually to a program that is positively impacting public education in South Carolina. The award is named for Riley and his late wife, Ann “Tunky” Riley, a devoted teacher and passionate advocate for quality public education for all children.

“We want our legislators, our friends, our colleagues, and our families to know that there’s a lot of good happening right here in South Carolina education,” Riley said. “Public education is critical to our democracy, and it takes all of us working together to keep it strong.”

Quality Counts creates high-quality learning environments and promotes best practices for teachers that help prepare our youngest students for success in school and life. By providing targeted professional development, mentorship and coaching, and nationally recognized assessments, it lays the foundation for continuous improvement.

The program was selected from a large pool of entries based on effectiveness as evidenced by its research, resource allocation, and sustainability by a committee of corporate leaders and education experts.

“Winning this award tells us our state believes in the value of educating our very youngest children,” said Barbara Manoski, executive director of Spartanburg County First Steps. “And that starting early makes all the difference, all the way from K to 12,” added Tammy Compton, Quality Counts program director.

As the 2020 WhatWorksSC winner, Spartanburg First Steps received a $10,000 award. Two finalists, Alternative Pathways to Educator Certification (APEC) and the Monaview MAGIC Initiative, each received $1,000.

APEC, a program of Columbia College, helps prepare quality teachers in critical-need school districts and promotes their retention. The Monaview MAGIC Initiative, an afterschool program at Monaview Elementary School in Greenville, fosters social, emotional, and educational growth in students by equipping families with resources and knowledge that help them thrive.

All will become members of the Riley Institute’s WhatWorksSC Clearinghouse, an online resource that collects and shareskey strategies for improving South Carolina’s public schools, and be featured on South Carolina ETV’s, which compiles thousands of media resources for teachers and students from pre-K through 12th grade.

The WhatWorksSC 2020 cash awards were made possible through the generous support of sponsors: South Carolina Association of School Administrators, The South Carolina Education Association, South Carolina School Boards Association, South Carolina Afterschool Alliance, South Carolina Education Oversight Committee, and Riley Pope & Laney, LLC. The Riley Institute would also like to thank South Carolina ETV for its programmatic support.

For more information, contact Katie Quine at 864.294.3368 or email


About the Riley Institute at Furman University
Furman University’s Richard W. Riley Institute broadens student and community perspectives about issues critical to South Carolina’s progress. It builds and engages present and future leaders, creates and shares data-supported information about the state’s core challenges, and links the leadership body to sustainable solutions. It is committed to nonpartisanship in all it does and to a rhetoric-free, facts-based approach to change. Learn more at