Suzanne Barr was recently hired on as Clarendon School District Two’s Public Relations Specialist. Barr sat down for an Editor’s Office Interview to discuss her duties and herself.
Jake McElveen, Editor: You have been working as the Public Relations Specialist at Manning for about two weeks now, right?
Suzanne Barr, Clarendon School District Two: That is correct.
How have the last two weeks been?
Incredible, so rewarding, and what is very interesting is that no one else has ever had this position. I think there is only one other school district in South Carolina that has a Public Relations Specialist and that’s in Spartanburg, so I am not following in someone’s footsteps. I am just taking on things myself. Working with the children is so exciting and I really just haven’t sat still since I started; I leave work than come home and work another couple of hours to try and get everything done that I have on my list. It is just really very rewarding and everyone has been so wonderful.
I’m sure it’s exciting being the first to hold this position, you get to set a blueprint.
That is exactly right and a perfect way to word it. I have a lot of experience in Public Relations and I am just trying to capture everything I need to do for each school. We are trying to give the parents more confidence that their children are being treated safely we are being so cautious when it comes to the children and their health and safety. The position was the idea of Dr. Johnson, our superintendent, who is now in his second year. He presented it to the board and it was approved, and I think he is being very proactive for the school’s benefit.
Where were you born and raised?
I was born in San Francisco, my dad was in medical school and he had all three of us there before we moved to Richmond Virginia and that is where I mainly grew up. We found out after we had lived there several years that our family had actually come to Jamestown in 1607. That was really interesting knowing that we were living an hour and a half from where our ancestors had arrived in America.
You attended high school in Richmond?
Yes, I graduated high school in Richmond and then attended Virginia Common Wealth University in the business school.
After you graduated college did you go straight into public relations or is that something that came later on in life?
I went straight from college to working for an advertising company and I handled all the media. It was a small agency and I am proud to say I am still close to the people I worked with. I did everything there from media to public relations with the clients. I would call press conferences for children’s groups and the American Heart Association on the side for the community. I have been in advertising for a long time.
How did you get involved with children?
I just did, it kind of happened out of nowhere. One time there was a group at an empowering class that I took, you know the motivational classes, and this one friend of mine was teaching the children to dance because the families could not afford dance classes and we raised money and were able to send the children to New York to meet the Rockettes. I also worked on what was called the “Challenge and Discovery group” and I did a lot of work with them too. I just love children. Not everything I did in public relations involved children but I have done many projects for children.
What drew you to Manning, how did you get this position?
Well I used to have a boarding, daycare, and grooming salon down near Folly Beach. I was in business for 14 years. I did a lot of promoting for my own business. Eventually, the building sold and I had a place in Eutawville that I owned so I moved up here and started looking around for jobs. Due to COVID, that has been very difficult, but then I found Manning and this position and I just focused on that and I am very fortunate that they hired me.
What is the most important aspect of your job at District Two, in your opinion?
Letting people know what is going on with their children. What they are doing; when the teams are playing; really anything that is happening with the Manning High Monarchs. I try to promote it all from the players to the band members to the cheerleaders; every aspect. I try and take pictures of the younger children daily and get the news out so the parents and caregivers know what is going on. It is difficult right now because the children are only coming in one day a week and then going virtual for the rest of the week. A lot of the parents still have to go to work so we are working with them to continue to keep the children educated, but I really think the schools are handling the Pandemic well.
You have come into a school position at a very strange time but it sounds like you are handling it very well.
You just kinda have to follow your gut with this and keep the kids safe and get as much information out as you can and make things seem as normal as you can. It’s difficult but the teachers and staff are handling it all so well, and I am extremely proud to work with them.