Ackerman honored posthumously for leadership in education

A former Williston resident who served as the first executive director of the SC Association of School Administrators was among the inaugural class inducted into the SC Educator Hall of Fame.

The late Tom Ackerman, a 1945 graduate of Williston High School, was posthumously honored Friday, April 27 at the Columbia Marriott at the second annual gala of the South Carolina Foundation for Educational Leadership, the nonprofit arm of the South Carolina Association. school administrators (SCASA). The evening celebrated the inaugural class of the South Carolina Educators Hall of Fame and distinguished South Carolina public school graduates who have excelled nationally and/or internationally in their respective fields.

“Our family is so happy that Dad is being honored in such a special way for all of his years of leadership with our state’s professional administrators,” said Ackerman’s daughter, Becky Horton, who accepted the award.

Ackerman was born in Walterboro on June 25, 1928, but his parents, Clarence K. Ackerman and Mary B. Ackerman, moved the family to Williston when he was a toddler. His father was superintendent of schools in Williston.

“Tom grew up in this small town in South Carolina with a strong sense of being a good citizen and loving God and his family. As a young boy, Tom was a newspaper boy and a Boy Scout. He excelled in sports and particularly enjoyed playing football and basketball,” according to biographical information provided by the family.

After graduating from Williston High School, he earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in education from the University of South Carolina. During his college years, he worked as a page for Senator Sol Blatt.

After his service in the United States Army, Ackerman began his career in public education. He was a teacher and coach in Ridge Spring, an elementary teacher and principal in Beaufort, and a K-12 principal in Pamplico.

“Tom Ackerman was a student-centered, student-centered principal. He always put the best interests of his students first; it was uplifting and helpful to all students. He encouraged them to strive to do their best! As a friend and fellow professional educator, I knew Tom Ackerman as a person of high character with great integrity. He was highly respected by students, teachers, parents, fellow administrators and friends,” said Williston District 29 Acting Superintendent Dr. Everette Dean Jr. in education.

Ackerman then began working for the SC Education Association as a field representative where he traveled to public schools throughout the state, developing relationships with professional educators. His work with the principals and superintendents associations led to him being hired as SCASA’s first general manager in 1974.

“Tom Ackerman knew that successful schools must have dedicated teachers and administrators who know how to encourage and support their teachers. He has never forgotten what it is like to be a hard working teacher who gives so much to his students and this has helped him know what kind of administrators are needed. The best school leaders are supportive, supportive, respected, hardworking and love their jobs, just like my dad,” Horton said.

Under his leadership, SCASA grew from three to eight affiliates. “His calm and consistent leadership was known statewide and nationally. He received the Distinguished Service Award from the American Association of School Administrators and retired June 30, 1990,” Horton said.

Horton, who taught elementary school for 32 years in Lexington Richland School District 5, said his father “would be so proud that SCASA’s membership had grown so much and that a lot was being done to help develop effective school leaders so that all of our public school students can thrive.”

After retirement, Ackerman spent more time with his family, including his five grandchildren, cheering on the Gamecocks, teaching adult Sunday school, traveling, and continuing to cheer on public school administrators.

“He was always proud of his family and his career in public education,” Horton said of his father, who died Feb. 11, 2014.

Ackerman and his wife Glenna have three daughters and five grandchildren.

Janice G. Ball