Teacher & daughter of Lexington District Two educational legend running for school board
West Columbia, SC (Paul Kirby) - Liz Chitty Castles is running for a seat on Lexington School District Two's Board of Trustees. Castles is a teacher who has taken a year off since the death of her father Jerry Chitty, who passed over the summer. During that time, she made the decision to run for the school board. She would be unable to serve on that board and work in Lexington School District Two as she has before. She could, however, return to a position she held as a K4 & 5 teacher at Hebron Day School in the Pineview area of Lexington County. Currently, she is enjoying being a homemaker and working in several volunteer capacities.
Castle's father, Jerry Chitty, was a legendary educator in Lexington District Two schools. He worked at many of the district schools in various teaching and administrative roles for decades. Even after leaving District Two he went on to manage the Athletic Booster Club at Newberry College. She grew up in the Pineview area of Lexington County and attended Pineview Elementary, Northside Middle, and Brookland Cayce High School.
Castles has been married to Trey since 1998 and the couple are raising four children in the area of Lexington County behind the Lexington Medical Center. One of their children is a freshman in college and the three remaining children are all students in Lexington Two Schools; One is a senior, one a freshman, and the third a 7th grader.
Castles followed in her father's footsteps and became an educator herself. She has worked in Lexington School District Two schools before getting married. Afterward, she taught a short while in Berkeley County schools before the couple returned to Lexington County. She returned to teaching in the District Two again but eventually left to take a position at Hebron Day School. “Teaching at a small private school makes you quickly realize how important teacher support is. While teaching at Hebron, I would often return to Lexington Two schools for in-service training and to interact with my many mentors that work or have worked there. So many great educators sowed into my life over the years starting when I was very young,” Castle’s said during a recent telephone interview.
“Kids are kids no matter where or what school they go to school. I am running to represent Lexington District Two as a whole. I would reach out to students no matter where they are from, who their parents are, or what their homes are like, they are all our kids,” Castles said. She is aware that there is a sometimes a perceived gap in equitability between the attendance areas that feed the districts two high schools. “If I'm elected, I would work hard to unite our district. The two high schools have a fierce but friendly rivalry between them. That should not carry over into a feeling that either of the high schools are favored over the other,” Castles stated. “Every student in this district deserves an equal opportunity to learn and grow as they prepare to graduate and move on after high school.” Although she is a graduate of Brookland Cayce, she has taught in the schools of the Pine Ridge community and was mentored by, “many wonderful and caring educators,” at Airport High School.
Castles said that Lexington Two has always shined. “Because of our location regionally in the center of the state, we have such great access to the SC State House, many of the state’s educational advocacy organizations, and everything that being close to Columbia brings with it. She said that even though the state’s capitol is just across the river, the communities of Lexington Two still have a small-town feel. “The community is all in for Lexington District Two. There is a great energy here,” Castles continued.
“We have some students we could be better serving,” Castle said after a moment of reflection. “This COVID pandemic has shown that we need to strengthen our technology and try to close that technology gap for some of students who are less fortunate than others. We still have a number of students who do not have access to internet service at home and that is obviously an issue that needs to be addressed.” Chitty said that she also believes the district can improve in student’s social mobility. This is a phrase she uses to describe children's learning, growing, an improving so that they earn a position in life that exceeds the social and economic status of their parents. “Most parents want for their children to have a better life for themselves and that can be achieved through a better education. Through hard work and with the right educational foundation, many of these children can go on to college or work and move up the social and economic ladder,” she continued. She voiced her approval of the district’s Innovation Center saying, “I love it! It is a huge asset to our district and to our students whether they plan to go to college, onto schools like Midlands Tech, or straight to work after high school.”
Castles is a great advocate for teachers. “We need to listen to our teachers closely. They know these kids best and can sometimes be the only advocate a child has.” She went on to say she feels like teachers need to feel heard. “To retain our teachers they need to feel respected and appreciated.” In order to do that, she'd like to see the district organize some teacher led forums where they share both their own challenges and solutions they may have already developed.
Castles said she welcomes voters’ questions and comment in the final week leading up to the election. You can call her on her mobile phone at (803) 603- 8538 or email her at email@example.com.