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It may seem like Josh Rice’s primary focus is in making sure the wheels of the operation at Chandler Creek Elementary School keep turning efficiently. In his first year as administrative assistant, similar to an assistant principal, Rice is responsible for morning buses and breakfast service, among other administrative tasks. But for him, it’s all a means to an end.

Rice was a special education teacher, first in Aiken and then at Greenbrier Elementary, before taking on his new role at Chandler Creek. Education wasn’t his dream – at least not at first.

“I finished up at The Citadel with a business administration degree,” he said.

As part of his senior year course work, he took an introduction to education class.

“I ended up going to work in a middle school and there I just fell in love with doing math and reading exercises with the kids,” he said.

Rice went on to earn a master’s degree from Converse College and then a second graduate degree in education administration from the University of South Carolina.

The highlight of Rice’s day comes in the relationships he has with his students.

“I get to play a part in the community and be a part of these kids’ lives,” he said. “For those that have a great home life, I am extra support. For those that don’t, I can be that role model. I want to build people of character and people of integrity in Greer. It’s the community I live in.”

Rice’s administrative responsibility for breakfast means he gets time to visit with students and really get to know them.

“From the start of the day, I try to be a positive, friendly face,” he said.

Rice is even known to show up at his students’ sporting events, just to let them know he cares.

“When I build the best relationships is outside at recess,” he said. “I want them to feel that school is an important and safe place for them. That’s probably my biggest responsibility here. At the end of the day, I want to send out students who are educated and who are people of great character.”

Nomination excerpt

“The students at Chandler Creek have found a male mentor in Mr. Rice and he has used his position to be an advocate for student health and welfare. ... His easy-going attitude combined with a servant’s heart will continue to impact our school and the larger Greer community. He is a product of Greer schools and an educator who gives back.”

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