The School District of Pickens County (SDPC) is proud to announce that four schools/programs within the district, along with the district communications office, have been honored with a remarkable total of 22 prestigious awards from the South Carolina chapter of the National School Public Relations Association (SC/NSPRA) for their exceptional communication efforts. SC/NSPRA recognized School District of Pickens County schools Liberty Primary, McKissick Academy of Science & Technology (MAST), R.C. Edwards Middle, and the SDPC Work-based Learning program at its annual Rewards for Excellence ceremony held on May 12, 2023, in Columbia.

SC/NSPRA celebrated the effectiveness of 201 programs and projects from across the state as part of its annual program to evaluate and strengthen public relations programs. This program recognizes outstanding communications and public relations efforts by South Carolina schools, school districts, and education agencies and associations. Public relations veterans with extensive experience in educational and business communications evaluated over 300 entries. 

These well-deserved accolades not only highlight the exceptional communication efforts of our schools but also display our commitment to fostering strong relationships within our community,” said SDPC Director of Communications Darian Byrd. “Effective communication is vital in creating a positive educational environment and ensuring our communities are well-informed and engaged."

The Rewards for Excellence Program features three award programs:

Publications and Digital Media Excellence Awards

  • For individual products designed to improve communication. This program recognizes outstanding work in print and digital publications, video, audio, websites, social media, and more. These are focused on stand-alone projects and documents.

Golden Achievement Awards

  • For a single project or an aspect of a comprehensive program. This program recognizes outstanding, strategic work in all aspects of school public relations, communications, marketing, and engagement. 

Gold Medallion Awards

  • For comprehensive public relations programs. This program recognizes superior educational public relations programs and campaigns grounded in strategic communication best practices. 

This year, the district and three schools earned a combined 22 awards:

  • School District of Pickens County director of communications Darian Byrd’s “SDPC Vision and Mission Refresh – the Journey to the new Vision for the Students of Pickens County” entry received a Golden Achievement award and marketing and communications specialist Caroline Fowler collected two Golden Achievement awards for her “Teacher of the Year & Support Employee of the Year Showcase” program and “2022 Teacher Appreciation Week Video”. Fowler also received seven awards for photography and video production, including a Best in Show for the photography entry “Overcoming Adversity – Success!”.

  • Liberty Primary principal Jessica Patterson and Assistant principal Joy Ellison accepted a variety of Publications & Electronic Media awards including two video awards, two marketing awards, and one each in the handbook, photography, and newsletter categories. They earned a Best in Show for the handbook entry “Liberty Primary School Virtual Office”. 

  • McKissick Academy of Science & Technology (MAST) assistant principal Andrew Shipman collected a Golden Achievement award on behalf of MAST for the video project “McKissick Academy STEM”. 

  • Thomas Preisig, principal of R.C. Edwards Middle School, and Dr. Rachel Gregory, Instructional Coach, accepted three awards including two Publications & Electronic Media awards - one for the social media project #180daysatRCE and one for their weekly and monthly newsletter projects. R.C. Edwards also earned Best in Show among all South Carolina school entries in the Golden Achievement category for their online news program “The Panther”. 

  • Anna Esuary, Work-Based Learning Facilitator for the SDPC Work-Based Learning program, earned a Publications & Electronic Media award for her work on the “SDPC Work-Based Learning Branding-Image Package”. This project details her planning to develop and launch a logo to brand the program.

You can click the live links on this page to view the full projects that earned awards from the School District of Pickens County. 

SC/NSPRA is an affiliate of the National School Public Relations Association. The state chapter is composed of over 140 school public relations practitioners, superintendents, and other educational professionals from across the state. The organization strives to foster development in the field of school public relations and to encourage meaningful community involvement in and understanding of the public school system. Visit for more information.