Dr. Phinnize J. Fisher was selected as the ninth Superintendent of The School District of Greenville County in May, 2004, and retired in April, 2012. She joined Greenville County Schools in 1996 as Assistant Superintendent of Middle School education, and went on to serve as Deputy Superintendent and Chief of Staff before earning the Superintendent nod. Prior to her tenure at Greenville County Schools, Fisher served 10 years as an associate superintendent and principal in Montgomery County Schools (Maryland). Dr. Fisher’s lifelong work in education began as a teacher in New Jersey in 1969. In the course of her career, she served as teacher, principal, assistant/associate superintendent, deputy superintendent of operations, chief of staff, and superintendent.
Dr. Fisher championed high academic rigor, relevance for students, and enhanced student opportunities, even while leading the school district through State budget cuts totaling more than $50 million. Her educational philosophy focused on connecting children to the purpose of learning, and helping them understand how success at school relates to a successful, fulfilling, and meaningful life.
Dr. Fisher’s vision and determination led to many innovative programs in our district, including the opening in August, 2010, of A.J. Whittenberg Elementary, the state’s first elementary school with a fully integrated engineering curriculum. Another unique feature of the school is its emphasis on healthy lifestyles and nutrition, which includes providing students with school meals that exceed federal nutritional requirements. In addition, A.J. Whittenberg Elementary was the district’s first school built on the community schools model, and features a working agreement with the Salvation Army to provide support and services for students and their families.
During her tenure as Superintendent, Dr. Fisher was extremely active in the community, serving on boards for the United Way and Public Education Partners Foundation. She also served as a trustee for Spartanburg Methodist College and on the Board of Commissioners for Greenville Technical College. Additionally, membership in the Pleasantburg Rotary Club, the South Carolina Association of School Administrators’ (SCASA) executive board, and the South Carolina Superintendent’s Roundtable provided further opportunities to give back to both her community and her profession. After retirement from GCS, Dr. Fisher was elected President of the Spartanburg Methodist College Board of Trustees.
Dr. Fisher received numerous local, state, and national awards, including: 2011 National Superintendent of the Year Final Four, 2011 South Carolina Superintendent of the Year, 2009 Honorary National FFA American Degree, 2009 Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club Public Servant of the Year, 2007 Outstanding Superintendent by the Career and Technology Education Administrators Division of SCASA, 2005 Women Making History Award, Greenville Magazine Administrator of the Year, a Lifetime Membership in the South Carolina PTA, and The Order of the Jessamine, an honor bestowed on women making a difference in their communities. Her professional organizations include the American and South Carolina Association of School Administrators, National and South Carolina Alliance of Black School Educators, and the National Association of Secondary School Principals.
A graduate of St. Paul’s College (Va.), Dr. Fisher received her master’s and doctoral degrees from Rutgers University. In setting an example of continuous self improvement, Dr. Fisher participated in Leadership Greenville, the Furman University Women’s Leadership Connections, and the Diversity Leadership Academy of the Richard W. Riley Institute of Government, Politics and Public Leadership at Furman University.