Our Schools

Diversity Spotlight

Diversity Spotlight

March 25-30

Mrs. Nelly Jolley

Mrs. Nelly Jolley’s official title is Richland School District Two Outreach Worker in the Skills for Life & Work Program but people across the Midlands of South Carolina know her as a mentor, helper, source of inspiration, producer of resources, teacher and friend.  In her position, she serves parents and community persons who do not speak English as their first language. She is passionate about providing opportunities for every person to be successful and she goes above and beyond her job duties to help ensure that families have the training and resources they need to achieve their goals.

A native of Ecuador, Mrs. Jolley has a keen understanding of the difficulties faced by many families who immigrate to the United States, especially those who speak a native language other than English.  She works tirelessly to provide education, services, and referrals to families in an effort to give them the skills they need to prosper. She has been instrumental in the success of the Hispanic Parent Ambassador program (Angels without Borders or Angeles sin Fronteras) that allows parents who speak Spanish to assist other Spanish speaking parents with PowerSchool enrollment, free and reduced lunch forms, finding local notaries for key documents and even how to help families enroll in school choice and magnet programs. She is also instrumental in the success of  Fiesta Conexiones where she brings together the Richland Library, several initiatives from the Sheriff's Department, multiple health providers, local charities and many others to provide their valuable services to our families in a fun-filled back to school celebration.

As a part of her job, she supervises an English program with the district’s faith-based partner, Windsor United Methodist Church. The program teaches 5 levels of ESOL (ENGLISH FOR SPEAKERS OF OTHER LANGUAGES), offers classes on computers and also prepares adult students to take the GED in English or Spanish.  Along with this, Mrs. Jolley offers a nursery for young mothers, brings in school and district personnel to support families, hosts the mammogram bus, offers sessions about legal concerns, coordinates an after-school tutoring program and offers multiple other opportunities on a weekly basis for our families.

Any time you run into an individual who works with the Latino community, you will find that they have worked with Mrs. Jolley and likely have plans to coordinate some type of service for our parents and students. The Skills for Life and Work program has grown into so much more than just teaching English. The program is a safe haven for over 150 our families. It is a place where it is known people can come and seek assistance, access resources for themselves and their families, gain friendships and support, and learn how to be a better citizen in our community.

Mrs. Jolley obtained degrees in Administrative Services and Education Sciences from the University of Guayaquil, Guayaquil, Ecuador.  She has previous work experience as the  Ecuador Branch Manager of  B.M.G. Music Publishing, Germany, now Sony BMG Music Entertainment where she had responsibilities for managing all aspects of accounting, marketing, advertising, promotions, and company sales.

Mrs. Jolley serves as a vital link for our culturally and linguistically diverse families.  She has a huge heart and is a wonderful community organizer. She has a keen ability to organize local resources and bring them together at events to help serve the overall wellness of our linguistically and culturally diverse students and families.

March 15 - 22, 2019

The Honorable Elizabeth Patterson

The Honorable Elizabeth Patterson was elected to the United States House of Representatives from South Carolina’s 4th Congressional District in 1986 making her the only woman in S.C. history to serve in Congress who did not follow her deceased husband into office.  She served in the United States Congress through 1993. She spent much of her childhood and formative years growing up in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol while her father, Olin DeWitt Talmadge Johnston, former Governor of South Carolina, served in the U.S. Senate from 1945 to 1965.

Mrs. Patterson’s political experience began when she won an open seat on the Spartanburg County Council in 1975. She served in that capacity for two years, securing a reputation as a fiscal conservative who trimmed county expenses while opposing a tax increase.  In 1979, she was elected to the South Carolina senate, where she served through 1986.

Mrs. Patterson has also served as a Public Affairs Officer with the United States Peace Corps and VISTA; as an administrator with Head Start and working as a staff assistant for Congressman James Mann.  After her time in Congress, Mrs. Patterson worked at Converse College as Director of Continuing Education Converse II Program; Adjunct Professor of Political Science at Spartanburg Methodist College; chaired the multi-million dollar fundraising for a new Spartanburg County Library Headquarters; was elected President of the Rotary Club of Spartanburg serving as the first and only female president; and she was the honored recipient of the 2000 Kiwanis Club Citizen of the Year.

She was awarded the 2013 Lee Poole Advocacy Service Award from the Charles Lea Center; 1989 Converse College – Honorary Doctorate of Public Service; 1987 Columbia College – Honorary Doctorate of Laws; 2009 Lander University – Honorary Doctorate of Laws; and 1999 Wofford College – Honorary Doctorate of Laws.

Mrs. Patterson served on the Boards of the Charles Lea Center – Life Member; Bethlehem Center; SC Independent Colleges and Universities; Spartanburg Methodist College; Wofford College; Spartanburg Boys Home; and Columbia College.
After a lifetime of dedicated public service, Mrs. Patterson died in November 2018.

We appreciate and celebrate her life and achievements and the many contributions she has made to the State of South Carolina and for her relentless efforts to champion change for all women.   



March 8 - 14, 2019

The Honorable Nikki Haley

The Honorable Nikki HaleyThe Honorable Nikki Haley, whose original name is Nimrata Nikki Randhawa, was born January 20, 1972 in Bamberg, South Carolina.  She served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and she was the first woman to serve as governor of South Carolina(2011–17).

Mrs. Haley’s parents are Indian immigrants who owned a small foreign goods store that evolved into a hugely successful clothing and gift venture. She began working there while still a teenager, and, after studying accounting at Clemson University, she continued at the family business. In 2004 Mrs. Haley won a seat in the state House of Representatives and  she was re elected in 2008.

In 2010 Mrs. Haley ran for governor of South Carolina. She defeated more experienced candidates in the primary and went on to win the general election. When she took office in 2011, she made history as the first woman and the first person of an ethnic minority to hold the governorship.
In 2015 Governor Haley attracted national attention after the massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC where nine African Americans were killed. The killer claimed that he had hoped to start a race war, and in the ensuing weeks pressure mounted to remove the Confederate flag from the State Capitol. Although she had earlier dismissed calls to remove it, in the wake of the tragedy Haley successfully led an effort to have the flag taken down.

In November 2016, President-elect Trump selected her to serve as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. As UN ambassador, Mrs. Haley developed a reputation for being outspoken, especially concerning Iran and North Korea, both of which were pursuing nuclear programs. In 2018 she supported President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal (2015) with Iran, though the other signatories (China, France, Russia, Germany, and the United Kingdom) signaled that they were committed to the agreement. Haley also stated that the United States would “never accept a nuclear North Korea” and that North Korea’s regime would be “utterly destroyed” in the event of a war. Mrs. Haley, who had told President Trump that she planned to speak her own mind, also occasionally contradicted the president and others in his administration. She notably was highly critical of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, calling it “warfare.” Mrs. Haley resigned as UN Ambassador in 2018. Haley’s autobiography, Can’t Is Not an Option: My American Story, was published in 2012.

Amy Tikkanen
WEBSITE NAME: Encyclopaedia Britannica
PUBLISHER: Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc.
DATE PUBLISHED: 16 January 2019
URL: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Nikki-Haley
ACCESS DATE: February 28, 2019


March 1 - 7

Modjeska Monteith Simkins

Known as the “matriarch of Civil Rights activists” in S.C., Modjeska Monteith Simkins led the charge for equality tirelessly her entire adult life. Simkins was born in 1899, the granddaughter of emancipated slaves and eldest of eight children. Simkins devoted her life to fighting injustices placed upon African Americans. Not only did she work during a time when systematic oppression and violence ensnared the black community, but she was a woman in a man’s world.

After graduating from Benedict College in 1921, Simkins taught mathematics at Booker T. Washington High School on Wheat St. When she married Andrew Simkins in 1929, she was dismissed from her teaching position. There was a strict policy set down by the school board which prevented married women from being in the classroom.

Simkins, who believed that women could simultaneously be wives and mothers and teachers and whatever-else-they-chose, continued to live her pluralistic life.
Following her marriage, Simkins helped to found (and worked at) Victory Savings Bank, one of the oldest African American-owned banks in the country. Victory provided loans to local blacks who could not secure them from Columbia’s larger, white-owned banks, so it served as an emblem of financial independence + stability.

In the Jim Crow era, lodging options were slim for African Americans. Often families drove all night instead of lodging in unfamiliar towns. They were regularly turned away from restaurants, and instead ate picnic lunches on the road. There are accounts of families who carried portable toilets cross-country because African Americans were not permitted to use highway rest stops.

Simkins’ humanitarianism stretched beyond politics. During her time as an employee (and later the owner) at Motel Simbeth just outside of Columbia, Simkins provided hospitality and shelter for weary black travelers. Listed in the Green Book, Motel Simbeth became a landmark business for the local civil rights movement. During the 1960s, newspapers reported several instances in which hotel guests were terrorized by gunfire.
Simkins blazed an unprecedented trail when she was elected as the first female secretary of the NAACP’s South Carolina state conference. She worked side-by-side with her male counterparts in writing and gaining support for a petition that became part of the influential Briggs v. Elliot case school desegregation case.

Dedicated to the fight for human rights until her death at age 91, Modjeska Simkins’ passion for change propelled many different organizations.
She was a longtime correspondent for the Associated Negro Press, an international news agency that provided coverage of events and institutions affecting the lives of black Americans. A three-time candidate for elected office, Simkins defied labels while committing herself to achieving fairness and equality beyond the civil rights movement.

She also hosted a weekly radio program on Columbia’s WOIC (now a sports radio channel – 94.9 FM).She began each show with her signature tagline, “I woke up this morning with my mind set on freedom.”
In spreading ideas about health care and human rights, Simkins was part of a national network of activists. She was a gritty political organizer for whom commitment to the cause was more important than alignment with any one group.

Renowned for her tenacity and dedication, Simkins left her mark in education, health care, and race and class labor relations. She demonstrated the power of leading by example. Her legacy challenges us to carry on her work in the fight for human rights.

Read more about Modjeska Monteith Simkins.