District 5 Supt. Dr. Stephen Hefner receives Irmo Chamber Lifetime Achievement Award
Lexington-Richland School District Five Superintendent Dr. Stephen Hefner was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award from The Greater Irmo Chamber of Commerce on March 14. An active board member of the Chamber, Hefner was acknowledged for his commitment and devotion in the advancement of education.
“It’s truly an honor to receive this award,” said Hefner, accepting the award during the Chamber’s March meeting. “Legendary basketball coach John Wooden said, ‘A player who makes a team great is more valuable than a great player.’ It is my hope that I will be remembered not as a great superintendent, but that I will be remembered as a superintendent who helped spotlight the greatness of the District Five team.”
The Chamber’s Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes “an individual who has performed at an outstanding level of service and accomplishment throughout their career and whose work has been of great benefit to the Greater Irmo Community.” Hefner will retire from School District Five in June.
“Dr. Hefner has been an active member of the Greater Irmo Chamber Board of Directors for many years, faithfully attending our meetings and contributing to the growth of the Chamber,” said Kerry Powers, President and CEO of the Irmo Chamber. “He is a friend and champion of the Irmo community, and we are thankful for his service with District Five. We wish him a happy retirement.”
After earning his bachelor’s degree at Southeast Missouri State College, Hefner began his career in education as a high school teacher in his home state of Missouri. He earned a master’s degree and doctorate from the University of South Carolina. In 1974, he began work as a school counselor at Spring Valley High School. In 1994, he was named superintendent of Richland School District Two, where he served until 2010.
An advocate of public school choice, Hefner has been credited with launching and fostering several magnet programs in both Richland Two and School District Five. An estimated 15,000 – or 1 in 7 – students in the Columbia area are in magnet programs because of his singular efforts to bolster magnets, according to a recent media report.
In District Five, Hefner has helped school leaders secure two multimillion dollar federal Magnet School Assistance Program (MSAP) grants, including a $10.3 million grant in 2013 and $13.7 million grant announced last month. The district’s academic accolades also continued under his leadership, including top ratings, leading test scores and consecutive No. 1 school district rankings by Niche.com.
Hefner has received numerous honors during his career in education, including the “Friend of Gifted Education” Award from the S. C. Consortium for Gifted Education in 1995 and Educator of the Year award by the S. C. Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development in 1997. He was honored as “Distinguished Citizen of the Year” in 2003 by the local Boy Scouts of America organization. In 2009,
Hefner received the Order of the Palmetto, the highest civilian honor in the state of South Carolina. He was named South Carolina Athletic Administrators Association (SCAAA) Outstanding Superintendent in 2014. In 2015, he became the only superintendent in South Carolina history to receive the South Carolina Association of School Administrators Superintendent of the Year award twice.