South Carolina Youth Leadership Academy

Our Staff

Sandee Blankenship, Principal
(864) 898-4511 phone
(864) 898-5784 fax
Office hours: 7:30am-3:30pm
blanken@clemson.edu

headshot of Sandee

Bio

Sandee Blankenship is Principal of the Youth Leadership Academy, after serving on the school leadership team since the school opened in 2012. As TAP Master Teacher, Mrs. Blankenship led weekly professional development sessions, evaluated teachers and developed the school academic plan for each year. Mrs. Blankenship was also intergral in writing the Zest Quest health and wellness curriculum which was approved by the USDA as a SNAP Ed curriculum. In her tenure with Zest Quest she also served as a Wellness Coach, teaching health lessons to kindergarten through fifth grade and supervising the entire schools wellness program. She then served as director of the Zest Quest program managing the budget and 15 wellness coaches. Mrs. Blankenship also worked with Clemson University’s EFNEP where she evaluated curricula and trained educators in curricula delivery.

Mrs. Blankenship attended Concord University where she earned a BS degree in Education and a BS degree in Athletic Training. She also holds a Masters Degree from Clemson University in Youth Development Leadership. Mrs. Blankenship is a CrossFit Level I Instructor, holds a CrossFit kids certificate and is the founder of CrossFit YLA. She has 11 years of experience in education.

Mrs. Blankenship has been married to her husband Tommy for 11 years. Together they serve as part-time youth ministers at their church. They enjoy family activities including CrossFit, soccer, tennis and outdoor fun with their three daughters: Charlee (age 8), Sami (4) and Joey (2).

Patsy Wood Smith, Director of School-based Programs
(864) 898-4511 phone
(864) 898-5784 fax
Office hours: 7:30am-3:30pm
Patsys@clemson.edu

headshot of Patsy

Bio

Patsy Wood Smith is Director of School-Based Programs for the Youth Learning Institute of Clemson University. Mrs. Smith served as director of the Zest Quest Program for five years and is a twelve year veteran of the classroom. USA Today named her to the 2005/2006 All-USA Teaching Team, one of twenty teachers across the nation to receive this distinction.

Her fifth graders wrote and illustrated books that won the National Kids Are Authors Contest three consecutive years: 1998, 1999, and 2000. Their winning entries were published by Scholastic, Inc., and sold nationwide through Scholastic Book Fairs. They also received Honorable Mentions in 2001 and 2002. Mrs. Smith and her fifth graders were also featured in the 2000 Author Promotional Video produced by Scholastic Book Fairs.

A past member of the Advisory Board for the Upcountry Writing Project, Mrs. Smith is also a past member of the South Carolina Writing Improvement Coordinating Council and has evaluated many schools vying for the prestigious Exemplary Writing Award. Mrs. Smith is an experienced presenter and has been invited to speak at many local, state, and national conventions and workshops.

The published author of a young adult novel, Artificial Turf, Mrs. Smith has visited many Upstate SC schools in her role as guest author.

Mrs. Smith is a graduate of Clemson University, has her M. Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction, and is a National Board Certified Teacher and Certified Personal Trainer.

Teachers


Leigh Fine

Seventh and Eighth Grade Social Studies

Read Bio
Email Me

Cindy Gravely

6th Math, Science and Gifted & Talented

Read Bio
Email Me

Ben Hyder

Community Leadership Director and Related Arts

Read Bio
Email Me

Cassie Hyder

Sixth grade ELA & Social Studies
 

Read Bio
Email Me

Melissa Kennedy

Seventh and Eighth Grade Science
 

Read Bio
Email Me

Dottie LaMance

Seventh Grade ELA and Gifted & Talented, Eighth Grade ELA and Honors English I

Read Bio
Email Me

Jennifer Whitworth

Seventh and Eighth Grade Math, CP Algebra I, Honors Algebra I

Read Bio
Email Me

Angela Riddle

Special Education Coordinator/504 Coordinator

Read Bio
Email Me

Nathan Swords

Physical Education
 

Read Bio
Email Me

Staff & Consultants

Margie Player

Special Education Consultant

Read Bio
Email Me
A Foundation For Success