IRMO, SC – There has been one consistency in Dr. Greg Owings 44 years spent in education: relationships. In his five years as principal at Dutch Fork High School, Owings has taken initiative to make sure each day would be the best it could be for his staff and students.
“It is all about the relationships,” Owings said. “When I took the job, I knew it was important for myself and the rest of the administration team to be visible and develop relationships with our students. I love our kids and I take great pride in what we have accomplished.”
Under the direction of Owings, Dutch Fork has soared to new heights. U.S. News & World Report and The Washington Post rated Dutch Fork as the top traditional high school in South Carolina in 2016. In 2015, the school opened its Health Science Center, a 30,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art instruction space that enrolls more than 250 students participating in practicums through local medical offices while studying sports medicine and other health fields at the school.
One of Owings’ goals when arriving on campus was to make Dutch Fork appealing. With the help of Lexington-Richland School District Five’s District Office and its Board of Trustees, the school has achieved that. In addition to adding the Health Science Center, the landscape around the building has received extra attention, new turf was put in at the football stadium and the road where students are picked up after school has been revamped to help traffic flow smoothly.
Assistant Principal Jason Pollock is in his 13th year at Dutch Fork and says working under Owings has been an experience like none other.
“It has been great (working with Owings) and the reason it’s been great is because you could tell right away that he cares so much about Dutch Fork High School,” Pollock said. “This isn’t a place where he just shows up and does his job. He strives every day to make it the best place it can be. Every decision he has made has been student-based meaning he goes into each decision thinking if it’s beneficial for the students or not.”
Students have felt Owings’ impact and can truly see how he has made a difference. Senior Raye’anna Hoff remembers meeting Owings on her first day entering Dutch Fork as a ninth grader.
“Immediately he made me feel welcome and it really felt like home,” Hoff said. “I remember after meeting him I said to myself, ‘Wow it is going to be a great four years here!’ Just his presence and him giving us fist-bumps took away any doubts.”
Owings says he knew it was time to retire when he thought about how much time he has spent away from his family. His wife Pam has been retired for six years. He also has two daughters and a grandson that he is looking forward to spending more time with.
“I love everything this profession has given me,” Owings said. “But I am ready to do other things I enjoy. I want to spend more time with my wife, see my daughters and my grandson more and play golf with my buddies. I am also looking forward to traveling more.”
After being so used to making the drive each morning to Old Tamah Road, Owings says it will be an adjustment once retirement finally arrives.
“I’m sure my car will crank up and try to head towards Dutch Fork,” Owings laughed. “But I’ll have to remind myself it’s not going that way anymore.”
District Five Superintendent Dr. Stephen Hefner has worked with Owings for more than 40 years and reflected on memories of leadership he has shown at each stop.
“It has been an honor to see Dr. Owings make a difference in his staff and students’ lives over the years,” Hefner said. “He has been a tremendous asset to Dutch Fork High School and his extraordinary leadership he has brought to District Five has been unparalleled. We thank him for his dedication to the Dutch Fork community and wish him well as he embarks on a new journey in life.”